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Title: L'esprit de contradiction. English - The Spirit of Contradiction
Author: Dufresny, Charles Rivière, 1657-1724
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                     THE SPIRIT OF CONTRADICTION

                            BY DUFRESNY

                       Translated and adapted
                         By Frank J. Morlock



Characters            French names

Mr. Townly            M. Oronte
Mrs. Townly           Mme. Oronte
Lucas, the gardener   Lucas
Angelica              Angelique
Edward Richly         Valere
Mr. Nelson            M. Thibaudois
Lawyer                Notary
Lackey                Lackey

Six men, two women



The scene is a garden before Mr. Townly's house in London. Lucas, the
gardener enters in a rage.

Lucas:
To hell with that bitch and her contradictory nature!

Townly:
There, there, Lucas, softly.

Lucas:
No, sir. I can no longer put up with your wife's temperament.

Townly:
You have to forgive her, because the spirit of contradiction is
natural to her.

Lucas:
When she contradicts you like crazy,--you, her husband--that's
natural, huh? Well, maybe. But it isn't natural that she should
contradict my garden.

Townly:
Patience, Lucas, patience.

Lucas:
To be perfectly frank I don't like being gardener here--or anywhere
there are women. A woman in a garden causes more damage than a million
hedgehogs.

Townly:
You're right and my wife is in the wrong.

Lucas:
Everything I've planted is torn up. She's replanted all the weeds I
tore out when I was grafting. She said they're wildflowers. Then when
I planted the cabbages she said she now wants lettuces. Nothing is
done by her order that doesn't reverse something I've done. Yesterday
she half buried my prunes under melons. I believe, God pardon me! that
it would be better for me to plant watermelons in the grape arbor.

Townly:
She's unreasonable, but let's forget about that, Lucas. Let's talk
about marrying my daughter. I need your advice about that matter.

Lucas:
I haven't got an idea in my head because I've been fighting with
Madam. That puts me in an uncultivated state--me and my garden. And
besides, she's just discharged me.

Townly:
Don't worry about it. Never mind. I'll take care of you.

Lucas:
How are you going to take care of me against her--when you can't take
care of yourself? Hey! did I ever tell you that you're too easy with
her? As soon as she says yes or no, you say the same.

Townly:
What do you want, Lucas? I love my wife. She has no other pleasure
than to do exactly the opposite of what I want. So I provide her with
that small satisfaction.

Lucas:
You do that if that's what you like. But don't worry, her humour is
too settled for it to give her any satisfaction. So much for that,
sir. As to your daughter, I'll be what help I can--but what do you
intend to do?

Townly:
Well, you see I've got to get my wife to agree--

Lucas:
Well, it's not up to me. I've tried to revive your spirit, but you
won't do anything against her.

Townly:
Look, you're more imagination than I do. And more sense than
philosophers--who haven't any, really.

Lucas:
Wait, sir. There are peasants who are sharp about acquiring money--but
my philosophy is to govern the world like a careful gardener. You for
example, want to marry your daughter but you don't know to whom. But
me, I've seen it all in my garden. As I tell Madam, trees benefit from
the sun; plants from the shade. So you see if your daughter is ready
to benefit from marriage, your wife will put her in a convent.

Townly:
You've said it exactly. If my daughter wishes to get married she'd
better not show it.

Lucas:
Madam has already tried to worm it out of me. "But Lucas," she said to
me, "what do you think of this marriage?" "I think nothing, Madam."
"But my daughter, for her part--" "Nothing." "But my husband, for his
part--" Silence. "And because they know I can't breathe when I'm
contradicted, they hide it from me. But it won't work. And I have
tricks for figuring out when I'm being contradicted. It's a blind
alley." What a woman. Very well. Leave it to me to put everything
right. She's coming.

Townly:
I will wait for you in the arbor.

(Exit Townly)

Lucas:
I'd be very much put out to leave the employ of that bourgeois. His
bourgeois money shines forth more splendidly than the money of
noblemen who have a great deal more.

Mrs. Townly: (entering)
Have you just put yourself under the protection of my husband? He can
tell me to keep you, but I am not going to obey him. Come quickly,
give me the keys and then I will give you your wages.

Lucas: (in a whining tone)
I am very upset about losing my situation with you.

(Then roaring)
Ha! Ha! Ha!

Mrs. Townly:
You are laughing, eh?

Lucas: (crying)
It overwhelms me.

(Roaring)
Ha, ha, ha!

Mrs. Townly:
What are you getting at?

Lucas:
Nothing, nothing, ha, ha, ha.

(Sadly)
Here, Madam, I am giving you the keys.

Mrs. Townly:
I know why you're laughing.

Lucas:
Ha, ha, ha, ha. I can't hold myself in. How nice to be thrown out. I'm
not afraid of you. Ha, ha. I laugh like a merry go round at what you
have done. Ha, ha, ha. Quite frankly, this is something that I
expected for a long time from your difficult temperament and I hope
you are inexorable. I have said to myself, if Madam sees that I want
to take my leave, she won't hear of it. If I ask for my wages, she'll
let me fish for them rather than be of my opinion. Oh, it's much
better if I anger her so she will throw me out.

Mrs. Townly:
What! Who says I'm throwing you out?

Lucas:
I have quarrelled with you, ha, ha, ha. I'm giving you back your keys
willingly enough.

Mrs. Townly:
Oh, I see. To get even you have decided to leave me without a
gardener.

Lucas:
That's precisely what I'm going to do.

Mrs. Townly:
You can go when I have another.

Lucas:
You can have three right away.

Mrs. Townly:
Stay at least until tomorrow.

Lucas:
Tomorrow you'll no longer be in the mood to throw me out. I want to
quit today.

Mrs. Townly:
No! It won't be said that I am your dupe. You wish to leave me and I
do not wish you to leave.

Lucas:
One cannot keep people against their will. And you are of such a
disposition.

Mrs. Townly:
Listen! Is my disposition really so horrible?

Lucas:
More than I care to suffer.

Mrs. Townly:
At bottom, I'm really no good?

Lucas:
To be fair; I know that it isn't from malice that you torment the
whole world--but your will is naturally contrary and never agrees with
the will of any other person.

Mrs. Townly:
You hold a strange opinion of me--for of all the women in the world,
there isn't one who contradicts less than I do.

Lucas:
There's nobody like you, it's true.

Mrs. Townly:
I never contradict except for good reason. But I don't like being
contradicted. For example, I'm angry with you for your obstinacy. Why
do you obstinately hide from me that which I wish to know? Don't I
know that you are the advisor, the oracle of my husband? Without a
doubt he has taken you into his confidence in the plan he has for
Angelica.

Lucas:
Hey! He did speak to me about that.

Mrs. Townly:
Ha! Tell me about it.

Lucas:
I considered the matter of Miss Angelica very thoroughly.

Mrs. Townly:
Yes.

Lucas:
I know what I would tell myself about that matter.

Mrs. Townly:
Well, Lucas?

Lucas:
But my thoughts, your husband's thoughts, your daughter's thoughts--
I'm not going to tell you. Not even if you cry.

Mrs. Townly:
Lucas, I beg you, tell me.

Lucas:
You're not going to find out a thing. I see you coming. You're always
trying to find out the yes and the no. I will marry her. I will not
marry her. What did he say? What did she say? and all that just so you
can see the road others are taking so you can cross them.

Mrs. Townly:
On the contrary, I am always going the right way, and each of you
turns away from me from malice. And in a word I know they have made
some plan contrary to mine. But I see my daughter coming and I must
talk to her again. Halloo, Angelica, halloo. Come here for a minute.

Lucas: (exiting)
I am going to see Mr. Townly in the arbor.

Angelica: (entering)
What do you want me for, mother?

Mrs. Townly:
To speak to you again, daughter.

Angelica:
I'm always ready to listen to you.

Mrs. Townly:
I can complain about you every way because you are a dissimulator,
while I am good, and reasonable. Since I have to dispose of you one
way or another I want to consult your inclinations. Speak sincerely
for once in your life. Do you want to marry or not?

Angelica:
I've already told you mother, I am duty bound not to have any will in
this matter.

Mrs. Townly:
But you do nevertheless--admit it. I have no end other than your
satisfaction. Open your heart to me; speak naturally. You think that
marriage can make a girl happy?

Angelica:
I see some wives who praise their situation.

Mrs. Townly:
Ah, now I begin to understand.

Angelica:
But I see others who complain.

Mrs. Townly:
I don't understand you. Speak to me a little. You've seen this
newlywed who goes from door to door boasting about her good luck. Do
you hear her with pleasure?

Angelica:
Yes, indeed, mother.

Mrs. Townly:
You wish then, to be married?

Angelica:
Not at all. For this same woman the other day afflicted by her
complaints the same assembly that she had recently regaled the day
before with praises of her husband.

Mrs. Townly:
So you mean you're afraid to take the risk of getting married?

Angelica:
I didn't say that, mother.

Mrs. Townly:
What are you saying? Either you think marriage is good or bad--you
long for it or you dread it.

Angelica:
I don't long for it and I don't dread it. I've only voiced some simple
reflections without taking one side or the other. The pros and cons
seem pretty well balanced to me. That's what has suspended my choice
up to now.

Mrs. Townly:
Your indecision begins to make me impatient. You have too much
character to remain in a situation so indolent.

Angelica:
That's the situation a young girl ought to remain in until her mother
can decide for her without difficulty.

Mrs. Townly:
But if I decided to marry you?

Angelica:
My reasons for marrying would become stronger for the reason that my
duty would make me forget all the contrary arguments.

Mrs. Townly:
And if I decide to keep you single.

Angelica:
Then the reasons against marriage would appear to me to be the best.

Mrs. Townly:
What talk, what a tractable spirit. I cannot get it out of you. What?
You won't give me the pleasure of knowing your inclination.

Angelica:
My inclination is to follow yours.

Mrs. Townly:
She won't give up her opinion.

Angelica:
I will obey you to the death.

Mrs. Townly:
What obstinacy, what an opinionated--

Angelica:
It's not obstinacy.

Mrs. Townly:
What, you contradict me without stopping?

Angelica:
To wish what you wish is to contradict you?

Mrs. Townly:
Yes, yes, yes, because I want you to express your will and you won't
do it.

Angelica:
But Mom!

Mrs. Townly:
You make me beside myself. Shut up. They will all say I'm wrong again.
Now it's you--yes, it's your spirit, one can call it that indeed--a
spirit of contradiction. I don't know how I can live with you. A
daughter like this is a real domestic calamity. I want to get rid of
you for sure. Yes, miss--I will marry you off today. The two
candidates are Edward Richly on one side and Mr. Nelson on the other.
I will not give you the honor, I will not give you the choice. You
will take the one I choose. I will speak to your father one more time.
If his ideas are reasonable, I will agree. If not, no.

(Exit Mrs. Townly in a rage)

Angelica: (sighing)
What violence is necessary to turn me into a dissimulator with all the
world. I am naturally sincere. But where my mother is concerned I
don't dare confide in any one if I'm in a situation where I can see
what's happening.

(Enter Mr. Edward Richly)

Edward:
Here I am again young lady, and I've resolved not to return to Oxford
without having first had an explanation with you. I swear to you your
manners make me beside myself. I am furious, worse, I'm no longer in
possession of myself. When I think that since the last time I came
here neither my love, nor my respect, nor my prayers, nor my
reproaches, have succeeded in getting one word out of you. (pause) I
can't make any sense out of it. When I spoke to you of the most
violent passion that ever was, you listened to me with a tranquility,
a languor that was incomprehensible. For women react either with love
or scorn or anger to such emotions. Just Heavens, what am I to think
of a silence so obstinate?

Angelica:
Only that I am prudent and nothing more.

Edward:
Do you approve of my love or forbid it?

Angelica:
I can't say.

Edward:
Always the same indifferent tone.

Angelica:
You haven't been able to tell whether I have any inclination for you,
right?

Edward:
That's what upsets me.

Angelica:
Nor have you seen any aversion?

Edward:
No indeed. But that's not satisfactory.

Angelica:
It satisfies me. For I have need to be impenetrable to your curiosity.
Didn't I tell you that I have formed a project to secure my freedom,
and that to implement this project, it is necessary that my mother be
unable to tell whether I love you or someone else? My father must also
be kept from the truth--and therefore you also must be kept in the
dark--for if you know it, my father, my mother, and any one who sees
you will be well informed.

Edward:
You're trying to tell me I'm indiscreet?

Angelica:
No, but your vivacity takes the place of indiscretion.

Edward:
I know how to control my temperament. For example, from the moment I
saw you I felt possessed to such a degree that you wouldn't think it
possible. And I swear to you that a word of enlightenment--one little
word from you, will make me just as tranquil as you are.

Angelica:
But suppose the word is that I have no intention of marrying you?

Edward:
Ah, so that is what you dare to tell me? How can I listen to such
infamy? Just Heaven!

Angelica:
You're not tranquil: would you feel better if I promised never to
marry anyone but you?

Edward:
If you promised me that--ah! I'd die of delight. Yes, my joy would be
so great--

Angelica:
So that you would publish that, too. See how your transports of joy or
despair give away everything! They would divulge my secret, and from
them my mother would know what I want to do: then she would cross me
furiously. Thus I find that I am wise to keep you ignorant of my true
intentions.

Edward:
I can't be ignorant of them, ingrate. They are so plain. So I tell
you, I've just learned you will be betrothed to Mr. Nelson, today.

Angelica:
That is possibly true.

Edward:
And that's why I came here.

Angelica:
Well go away, then.

Edward:
And that is what has made me understand all your politics. I see
you've managed me up to this point because I am friends with your
mother. You fear that, irritated by your refusal, I will prevent this
marriage.

Angelica:
Prevent this marriage! I believe you are a very gallant man to prevent
me from securing my advantage.

Edward:
No, cruel woman, no. Don't worry. If you are happy with another, I
will die, but I will not prevent you.

Angelica:
You are ruining my plans already. But I do believe that if I had no
inclination for you, you wouldn't try to force my feelings. Do what I
want you to do. Don't see either my father or my mother today. I
forbid you to appear here. So go, I beg you.

Edward:
I obey you blindly, but if you betray me--

Angelica:
I cannot betray you, because I've promised you nothing.

Edward:
If you betray me you are the most cruel, the most--

Angelica:
Oh, if you are going to berate me, wait till I've done something. And
I will do something very soon perhaps. Don't be so impatient.

Edward:
WHAT! You mean--

Angelica:
Here is my father. Leave quickly.

(Exit Edward)

(Enter Mr. Townly from another direction)

Townly:
Rejoice, little girl, rejoice. You will be married according to my
wishes. I have triumphed and put it over on your mother.

Angelica:
Ah, poor papa, I am afraid indeed that--

Townly: (dancing around)
I put it over on her I tell you. She just insisted herself that I do
what I wish. And I had to appear not to like it for fear she'd change
her mind.

Angelica:
Once she gets an idea, action soon follows.

Townly:
Yes, my darling daughter, the great wealth of Mr. Nelson is as
pleasing to my wife as it is to myself. A rich merchant is a treasure
for a girl like you who hasn't a romantic thought in her head. True,
he's a bit rustic and crude, but he's open, honest.

Angelica:
I pardon this crudeness in favor of his honesty.

Townly:
Some say he lacks good qualities, but I find he has many. If only he
could get away from the habit of saying things which have neither rhyme
nor reason. He's a little too familiar, especially with women he's
never met before.

(Enter Mr. Nelson sporting a large gold vest, huge cuffs, a big belly;
his fingers are covered with rings)

Nelson:
Hey, neighbour--well, well, your old lady says that--what didn't she
say, that woman? Ha! There's your daughter. Well, well, when shall we
get married, honey?

Angelica:
I have no idea.

Townly:
Not everything's ready yet.

Nelson:
Ready, ready, I'm ready. Yes, yes, Angie, I give you my word. Take the
biggest ring from my finger--it's yours.

Angelica:
We aren't at the altar yet.

Townly:
We have to consider.

Nelson:
Let's consider, let's consider.

Angelica:
We must take precautions.

Nelson: (grabbing her hand)
Take, take.

Angelica:
While you are deliberating it's better that I stay with my mother.

Townly:
Go quickly. We haven't any time to lose.

Nelson:
Time is pressing, yes. (squeezing her) Wait, wait, I want to see you
again. It makes me feel good. Let's talk about any old thing. Tell me
a story.

Angelica:
What sort of story do you want me to tell you?

Nelson:
Well, tell me, tell me--you're cute, sweety--tell me a little story--

Angelica:
It's time that I should go--

Nelson: (still holding her by the arm)
Ho, I want you to tell me-- Ah, I love you with all my heart--tell me
a little love story.

Angelica:
You love me, and I'm obliged to you for that. Story's over.

Nelson:
Well, the story's over. Why did you tell me that story? Tell me
instead--

Townly: (separating them)
Oh, let her go. It really is important that her mother not see her
with us.

Nelson:
Go then. Go darling. Get ready to be my wife.

(Exit Angelica)

Townly:
Let's discuss a little how we are going to manage my wife. For that's
the difficulty in our little business.

Nelson:
What's the problem?

Townly:
Not really a problem, but--

Nelson:
Because it's not a problem for me--

Townly:
Do you have some expedient to--?

Nelson:
Sure, sure. Leave that to me. Tell me, what are you going to do?

Townly:
That's the problem, I tell you.

Nelson:
You, you, you, are a poor planner. Nothing is so easy.

Townly:
Instruct me then!

Nelson:
Nothing is so easy. Now how do you intend to go about it?

Townly:
That's what puzzles me.

Nelson:
But, but, but, me too-- She's a terrible woman, your wife.

Townly:
I see we're both too clever and cunning to figure out what to do. But,
by luck, I have a gardener who has more clever ideas that anybody in
the world. He should be a statesman. A real good head on his
shoulders.

Nelson:
I've got a good head, too. Have him here and we'll figure it out.

Townly:
Here he is now.

(Enter Lucas)

Townly:
Well, Lucas, have you been thinking about our business--have you
considered what I said to you?

Lucas:
Shh!

Townly:
Shh?

Nelson:
Shh!

Lucas:
This gentleman here wishes to marry Miss Angelica, Angelica also,
Madam does, you do, and so do I. So the matter's settled.

Nelson:
See--it's settled.

Lucas:
I say it's not settled. For from the moment she sees that we want it,
too--she won't stand for it, not her!

Townly:
That's the trouble.

Nelson:
That's the trouble.

Lucas:
Oh, I ask you if--

Townly:
Certainly.

Nelson:
What a question.

Lucas:
I ask you then if she were unaware that we agree--

Nelson:
That's a good idea.

Townly:
Very good, Lucas.

Nelson:
That's my advice.

Lucas:
That's good advice. You must tell everybody so that your opinion's
spread by rumor. For my part, I know that your wife's temper is like a
whirligig that's always turning one way then another in the wind.
Therefore, we must make the wind appear to blow from the West so
she’ll blow to the East. Ah, there must be two winds blowing about
Miss Angelica. Nelson on one side, and Young Richly on the other. We
have only to say that it's Richly we want and she will force this
gentleman on us just to cross us. That's my pronouncement.

Townly:
That will tie it up.

Nelson:
That's the trick. Here are a hundred pounds, Lucas.

Lucas:
It's necessary to tie two knots to do the job right. For there remains
the little matter of putting Madam in the mood to cross you.

Townly:
Let's try to do it immediately--our lawyer has been called, the
marriage contract is ready.

Lucas:
Yes, but to finish this properly she must be put into a rage. I know
the secret of irritating her. When she comes to inspect my garden I
will pretend not to say a word. Instead, I will scrape the ground with
my shovel--that will infuriate her. I will shake my head--she'll take
that for opposition and begin to argue; the fire will ignite, and when
her spirit is aflame--she will remember that she is an honest woman
and that she told you and you deceived her. And here she is now. I
will get her going, then you come in and announce you've decided on
Young Richly.

(Exit Nelson and Townly, then enter Mrs. Townly)

Mrs. Townly:
You were there quite a while with my husband. Apparently, he knows the
one he wants for a son-in-law. Is it Mr. Richly or Mr. Nelson, as I
advised him?

Lucas: (turning his hat)
HMMM!

Mrs. Townly:
You turn your hat. That means my husband didn't take my advice.

Lucas: (shaking his head)
PRRR!

Mrs. Townly:
Mr. Nelson, you say is not to my husband's taste--and he prefers
Richly?

Lucas:
Heh, heh, heh.

Mrs. Townly:
Because he is younger? Or because Richly is more pleasing to my
daughter?

Lucas:
Oh, well--

Mrs. Townly:
What! You think that the solid wealth of Mr. Nelson is not
preferable--

Lucas:
Well--

Mrs. Townly:
I get mad when I hear nonsense like this.

Lucas:
But, but, but--

Mrs. Townly:
False reasoning, all of it.

Lucas: (striking the ground with his foot)
The devil!

Mrs. Townly:
And everything you have told me is what my husband told you?

Lucas:
Pah fan goo.

Mrs. Townly:
So you've told me word for word everything he said. Well, let me tell
you, in spite of him--

Lucas:
Han.

Mrs. Townly:
Yes, in spite of him. In his teeth.

Lucas:
Pao.

Mrs. Townly:
Yes. He takes a high handed tone like that with me.

Lucas:
Pa, ta, ta.

Mrs. Townly:
He will see that I am the boss.

Lucas:
Puff.

Mrs. Townly:
Oh, that's too much. Husband, you cross me, you insult me, you outrage
me!

(Lucas signals Townly to come in and places Townly beside his wife;
Lucas exits)

Mrs. Townly: (seeing him after a moment in Lucas' place)
Continue, sir, continue. I really want to know where you get the
things you say to me.

Townly:
I didn't say a word.

Mrs. Townly:
Go ahead, be brave. It takes a lot to get me worked up.

Townly:
It's true that I've come to speak to you.

Mrs. Townly:
To speak to me without reason, without sense, that Mr. Nelson wouldn't
be good for my daughter.

Townly:
Still, Richly--

Mrs. Townly:
Don't say another word--

Townly:
I ask you to consider Richly.

Mrs. Townly:
No, sir. Richly presents nothing worthy of my consideration.

Townly:
Well, for my sake then--

Mrs. Townly:
>From today, I give my daughter to Mr. Nelson.

Townly:
But the reason.

Mrs. Townly:
The reason is that I wish it. And to prove that I am right it's going
to happen as I wish and immediately. Mr. Nelson is here. Get ready to
sign the papers.

(Exit Mrs. Townly to the house, and after a moment enter Lucas)

Townly:
Well--did I play my part well?

Lucas:
Like an expert this time. She is going to do what we want willingly
and for the first time in her life.

Townly:
There--is the lawyer here?

Lucas:
I'll go see. And when I see her, I am going to tell her I like Richly
better. To add a little fuel to the fire.

(Exit Lucas)

(Enter Angelica)

Townly:
We've done wonderfully, daughter.

Angelica:
I've heard. I was under the swing with the lawyer--he's just come.
It's time and he's on schedule.

Townly:
I am going to speak to him. Go quickly and rejoin your mother.

(Exit Townly)

Angelica:
Things are at the point where I wish them. And the measures I have
taken will succeed. Watch and see what happens.

(Exit Angelica; after a moment enter Mrs. Townly and a Lackey)

Mrs. Townly:
Tell me child, where did you get this letter from? Who is your master?

Lackey:
I am forbidden to tell you that--and to prevent you from forcing it
out of me, I am leaving right away.

(Exit Lackey)

Mrs. Townly:
Now what's this mystery?

(Reading low)
Hmm, hmm, hmm. "I advise you that your daughter is in communication
with Mr. Nelson and wants to marry him and to make you sign the
wedding contract, they have a lawyer ready who will appear as if by
chance." Indeed, that's the lawyer I just saw with Angelica. The
warning is obviously true. "In a word your husband pretended not to
want Nelson so you would prefer him." So! Mr. Nelson is the choice of
my husband.

(Enter Lucas and Townly)

Lucas:
Courage, sir. Tell her quickly that I am against Mr. Nelson.

Townly:
Listen, my dear wife--

Lucas:
I tell you that--

Townly:
I want you to know that--

Lucas: (to Mrs. Townly)
That I and your husband--

Townly:
You say that you want Mr. Nelson for a son-in-law, right? I tell you
that my daughter doesn't want him.

Lucas:
The matter is a little delicate.

Mrs. Townly:
It isn't my daughter's will or mine that ought to decide--it's yours
my husband--and in this and in everything else, you are master.

Lucas:
As for me, I think--

Mrs. Townly:
You're a good advisor, Lucas, and I willingly listen to your advice.

Townly:
In a word, my wife, you have proposed Mr. Nelson to me, and I don't
want him.

Mrs. Townly:
Let's speak softly. I love peace and harmony. I will do whatever you
find most agreeable.

Townly: (aloud)
What's agreeable to me is

(low)
not to have such complaisance about this.

Mrs. Townly:
To me it's to have a husband that I love and respect.

Townly:
You're joking, but I tell you Mr. Nelson is not to my taste.

Mrs. Townly:
Your taste determines mine and I tell you I won't give another thought
to Mr. Nelson.

Townly:
Lucas?

Lucas: (low)
Try harder. Her contradictory spirit isn't on fire yet.

Townly:
Tell me, Madam, are you making fun of me?

Mrs. Townly:
But what makes you think that when I give you my word?

Lucas:
Good! Your word comes and goes like the air.

Mrs. Townly: (sweetly)
Wait till you see.

Lucas:
You can't make up your mind.

Mrs. Townly:
To prove my sincerity and my submission, I am going this moment to
forbid Mr. Nelson to set foot in this house.

(Exit Mrs. Townly)

Townly:
I believe she's going to do it. What should have caused this miracle?

Lucas:
Listen, it must be that--

Townly:
It would be, just my luck. The only time in her life she doesn't
contradict me it's to contradict me.

Lucas:
For her to obey you is not natural.

Townly:
I am going to see what's happening. I still don't believe it.

(Exit Townly)

Nelson: (entering)
Well, well, Lucas. We are going to sign the contract. Here's the money
I promised you--

Lucas:
Madam is going to give you your walking papers--she's looking for you
to do just that.

Nelson:
She doesn't want me, you say?

Lucas:
Something has happened, I don't know exactly what. Wait for me here,
I'm going to see for myself.

(Exit Lucas)

Nelson:
I love waiting for this little Angelica--but I'm joking about that. If
I don't marry her, I can marry at least four others.

(Enter Angelica followed by Edward who is determined to fathom her
tricks)

Nelson:
Well, well, poor girl, it's bad for you. You won't get married.

Angelica:
What an irritating thing.

Nelson:
It makes me mad, but I'm easy. You're crying because you love me, and
that's swell. Don't cry, come on, don't cry. You'll make me do it,
too.

Angelica:
Go quickly, join my father, second him, speak together to my mother.
Beg her. Press her.

Nelson:
Shh! Shh! There's your other lover who's listening.

Angelica:
Ha--are you there, Mr. Richly?

Edward:
What I've just heard, what you've just said, has exposed you to me.
The lawyer I've just been with proved sufficiently your betrayal, but
you aren't worthy of my reproaches. I will take the way of scorn and
silence.

(Shouting)
Don't wait for me, nor beg, nor reproach--ingrate! No, faithless one,
no traitress--

Nelson:
Do you call this the way of silence?

Edward:
Just Heaven--

Nelson:
What are you complaining of? That she promised you something?

Edward:
Nothing at all, Mr. Nelson. I would like to know indeed, sir, by what
right you insult me? How, I beg you, can you have any hope? First of
all, my father has as much money as you--and the little merit that you
have--

Nelson: (showing his hand)
Why, do you see this hand? These five fingers alone are worth more
than all your father's wealth.

Angelica:
For me, I prefer Mr. Nelson's good nature to this wild passion which
you never give up--

Nelson:
Fie! He's crazy in love--like in a novel.

Angelica:
His kind words touch me more than your despairing face.

Nelson:
I've heard it said that women don't care for the affected, but I pity
him. Go young man, go--console yourself. I will lend you some money.

Edward:
Why, damn you, sir--

Angelica: (taking Edward by the arm)
You're beside yourself. Go away, I beg you. I don't like to be
bothered like that.

Nelson:
Hey, me either. I'm going to rejoin your father.

(Low to Angelica)
I order you to get rid of him. Give him his walking papers and come
find me.

(Exit Nelson)

Edward:
Your procedure seems to me so outre that I cannot believe that you are
feigning. I don't flatter myself, but if you were pretending because
Nelson was around--now he is gone--justify yourself!

(Enter Mrs. Townly)

Mrs. Townly: (aside)
My daughter alone with Richly!

Edward:
Justify yourself--or admit you have betrayed me. Speak, we are alone.

Angelica:
I will speak to you just as I spoke in the presence of Mr. Nelson. My
father wants me to marry him and I tell you I am delighted.

Edward:
Oh! I give up. No more explanations. I am going to find your mother.

Angelica:
Go, sir, go, you can tell her that I want no part of you.

Edward: (seeing Mrs. Townly)
Have you heard, Madam? I am betrayed, Madam. For it is no longer time
to hide from you my love for this ingrate--you see she has betrayed
me.

Mrs. Townly:
I feel sorry for you, sir. You see father and daughter plotted against
you and me, too. I enter into your feelings because I always
sympathize with the feelings of others.

Edward:
No. After what she's done, I never wish to speak of her again.

Mrs. Townly:
I swear to you I have no objection to your proposing to my daughter.

Edward:
You propose her to me in vain.

Mrs. Townly:
But to prove to you, a reasonable man, that reason alone guides me in
all I do--I wish to offer you--

Edward:
I refuse your offers, Madam. I am not a man to force her inclinations.

Mrs. Townly:
So that I may have the pleasure of avenging you on my husband, on my
daughter--on all those who conspire to contradict me--I beg you, sir.

Edward:
Can't do it.

Mrs. Townly:
What! You contradict me, too? Oh, I will do so much for you, if you
will marry my daughter!

Angelica:
What! Mother! You wouldn't marry me against my will?

Mrs. Townly:
Against your will, daughter? Don't think of it--because you have no
will, remember?

Angelica:
Alas, when I spoke to you thus, I didn't speak sincerely. Why will you
prevent a rich match with Mr. Nelson?

Mrs. Townly:
He's got more wealth than you deserve.

Angelica:
Hey, mother, I beg you--

Mrs. Townly:
Shut up! I know all your tricks. The lawyer told me everything. You
wanted to betray me. To expose me to the will of a husband! To punish
you I will make you sign the contract you drew up against me. Only,
I'm going to fill in the name of Richly.

(Exit Mrs. Townly)

Edward:
No, Madam, I will never sign. I prefer to die rather than marry your
daughter.

Angelica: (imitating him)
I prefer to die rather than marry your daughter-- You say it very
naturally.

Edward:
As I feel it, ingrate.

Angelica:
And as I wished it. For if you had done it to persuade my mother it
wouldn't have worked for it wouldn't have sounded right. You could not
have deceived her if you hadn't been deceived yourself.

Edward:
Explain yourself.

Angelica:
To make my mother agree to what I want it was also necessary to
deceive my father. He tried to trick her naturally enough, and when I
saw how they were working for Mr. Nelson, by pretending the contrary,
I sent her an anonymous letter explaining what they were up to. And it
did the trick. Seeing all the world against you, she has taken your
part--and wishes to make us marry to contradict them--and you, too.

Edward:
Can what I hear be true? Misfortune overwhelms me, and joy confounds
me. But I don't know which.

Angelica:
I don't want you to show it until after the signature. I fear some
indiscreet transport of joy. No, Edward, don't believe yet that I love
you.

Edward: (wildly)
Ah! Darling, Angelica--divine lady--

Angelica:
Someone's coming. Keep pretending.

(Enter Lucas)

Angelica:
No, Edward, no. I will not be married to you against my will.

Lucas:
No, dammit, it will not be against your will--for you'll marry him
with joy. But it may not happen yet for I doubt you can both scheme
together or that you can pretend to be pretending. Your mother's on
her way, but I've warned you so that you may deceive her.

Angelica:
Ah! Heavens.

Edward:
How wretched you are!

Lucas:
For you it will be wretched. For Madam changes her mind quickly if she
suspects for a minute that you want it too. That's too bad cause, Mr.
Nelson promised me a hundred pounds.

Edward:
You rogue. Why didn't you ask for two hundred from me?

Lucas:
There's no time. Madam knows all. Meanwhile, if I take your money it
will be true that Madam knows all--for dammit she knows nothing.

Angelica:
Ah, my poor Lucas.

Edward:
Wait, take my purse.

Lucas:
And here comes Madam returning. I am going to assist you.

(Enter Mrs. Townly, Mr. Townly, Mr. Nelson, and the lawyer)

Lucas:
Come quickly, Madam, see the young folks are fighting. Come quickly,
separate them. They find everything the other one says enraging--so
much so that I would think they are already married.

Mrs. Townly:
Does my daughter revolt against me! Insolent! You here, too, sir.

(To Nelson)
Leave instantly.

Nelson:
Go, go. I am more complacent than you. You kick me out and I'm
leaving.

Mrs. Townly:
You're a brute.

Nelson:
Goodbye old battle cruiser.

Mrs. Townly:
A booby, a simpleton.

Nelson:
I never contradict anyone.

(Exit Nelson)

Townly:
Really, my dear wife--

Mrs. Townly:
Shut up, my dear husband--

Lawyer:
May I dare explain to you, Madam--

Mrs. Townly:
I am delighted that you are all against Young Richly. He lacked only
you. Give me the contract that I may sign-- (signing) Come, Angelica,
sign after me. Obey me.

Angelica: (signing)
I still can't be married, because my father won't sign, so there.

Mrs. Townly: (to Edward)
To oblige you, sir, I have put a gift for you in the contract.

Edward: (signing)
Hey! I didn't do it because of the gift. Go ahead, sir, don't waste a
minute for fear Madam will change her mind.

(Townly pushed by his wife, signs)

Lawyer:
These proceedings are closed. (Folds up the contract, bows and exits)

(Lucas whispers to Mrs. Townly)

Mrs. Townly:
What do you say?

Lucas:
I wish to say simply that they love each other.

Townly:
And I only wanted to marry her. No matter to whom.

Mrs. Townly:
I've been betrayed.

Angelica:
I throw myself at your feet, mama.

Edward:
A thousand pardons, Madam.

Mrs. Townly:
I will never pardon you in my life.

Townly:
You signed.

Mrs. Townly:
Yes, but I will disinherit her. I will never see my son-in-law again.
I will divorce my husband. I will hang Lucas and the lawyer. I am
going crazy.

(Mrs. Townly runs out in a fury)

Edward:
We'd better bring her back before she does something dangerous.

Townly:
So much for the spirit of contradiction.


CURTAIN





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