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´╗┐Title: Madame Aubin
Author: Verlaine, Paul, 1844-1896
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Madame Aubin" ***

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                            MADAME AUBIN

                   a play in one act and in prose

                          by Verlaine, 1895

              Translated and adapted by Frank J. Morlock


A Servant
Madame Marie Aubin
An Officer

The action takes place in the room of a hotel.

PELTIER (to a servant who is leaving)
That's fine. We'll ring when we need you.

(to Marie)
A day and a night of rest, my darling, right? After which we'll leave,
crossing Switzerland for Brindisi without any stop and reach the
Orient as it was agreed.

It was agreed?

Eh! Yes.

It's true. Indeed, as you like.

What do you mean? Since you approve, I'm going to peruse the train
schedule. You'll allow me.

My God, yes.

(A short pause during which Marie looks at her ring and munches on a
cake she has taken from a gold comfit box.)

PELTIER (after having written some notes in pencil)
There. At noon tomorrow we'll take the Express and we'll stop wherever
you like. Look. (offering Marie his notes)

My friend, you are perfect. I'm going to think it over. Would you
listen to me for a moment to discuss something else?

Speak my darling.

I want to call a halt to our adventure here.

I don't understand.

Don't interrupt me. What we are doing is crazy. It's not ridiculous,
it's crazy. We will be far less happy than we were there. And it truly
required all the influence of your charming character and the
persuasion of your frankness (offering him her hand which he holds and
keeps) to make me take this enormous step. It's no longer time, I know
or rather I suspect, to go back on such an impulse, but after all,
what do you want? And I am in despair after all this bravura which
decided me, sustained me, swept me off my feet during this long
journey from Paris to this chancy place. Ah, I'm afraid.

PELTIER (overwhelmed by surprise rather than skeptical and resolved as
he had appeared up until now.)
Afraid of whom and what? (he lets Marie's hand fall and crosses his
arms waiting to hear more)

Of the past, first of all. Fear! Remorse because of the past. And
certainly my husband doesn't deserve all this outrage. He's a man with
faults, surely, even vices, perhaps. But he's honorable and even
righteous. And now I think of it these quarrels between him and me
must rather proceed from me, spoiled child and over-free young girl
that I was before my marriage with this honest, with this gallant man.

Let's leave Aubin out of this. In the end what do you mean and what do
you want me to do? Return to Paris and your abandoned household?

I don't know yet. But don't interrupt me every minute and you will be
of my opinion. No. My husband ought not to have to endure these things
on his honor and his name. And it's true I am afraid of the past. I'm
afraid of the future, too. Or rather, no. It's the present which
frightens me, sir! For the future, I'll answer for it. And it will
conform to the vows of my finally reawakened conscience.

PELTIER (who has a mounting rage within him and feels himself provoked
to the last degree)
Explain yourself? Are you joking or not? I want to understand you.

Sir, you have no right to speak to me like this!

(Peltier advances like a man who has the right his interlocutor is
speaking of or believes he's going to have it.)

And I will never give it to you.


Do you hear, sir?

(The two stiffen and look each other in the face. A silence.)

Then why did you come with me of your own free will, or even on your
own initiative?

MARIE (who's settled down)
What do you want? I've changed my mind.

PELTIER (very cold and speaking through his teeth)
Fine. You've tricked me! At this point I'm not a young man. No one
makes a fool of me! For, my darling, I don't think that a caprice of
yours, such a sudden turnabout, such a flash of virtue--

Don't use that word virtue any more. It is terrible to my ears. I was
telling you just now that I've something like fear of the present.
Yes, fear to remain here this way. But I was in the process of adding
that the present doesn't terrify me. It was then that you shrieked out
at the moment I was going to explain to you how I intended to confide
myself to your honor to allow me to decide in peace. And you got so
carried away that you irritated me, too. And you just said things to
me! A caprice? me, at my age; twenty-eight years old! A flash of
conscience. Yes, that's it. Believe it.

But what role is it you wish me to play in all this? You, you are at
the same time reasonable, then illogical and me? as for me?

Your role? All sketched out. Let me do it all. That would be
chivalrous and fine.

But I love you, why--

And me, too, I love you and I say to you: Can't we love each other
without all this? (scornful gesture) without all this? (disdainful

Ah! We are there. A virgin arises in you when through you a satyr is
rising in me. (grabbing her by the waist) And towards you--

MARIE (who soon gets free)
Look, let's be serious.

(Peltier, who importunes a long explanation sits with bowed head; one
hand on the back of a chair, the other playing with his watch chain.)

What is it you risk? You, a man, a bachelor by this pleasant voyage?
Nothing. A duel perhaps on return! In this illogical world we live in
your reputation will be far from damaged; a world which dislikes
adultery in a woman and is passionately fond of all the gallant sins
of a fashionable man. Whereas I?!! And yet it's only quite natural and
especially on the brink of a final resolution, I hesitate and jump
back. Must you be angry about it? Look, are you angry? can you be?
ought you to be?

PELTIER (as if unexpectedly released and decided, peremptory, brief,
Questions! Questions! In my turn I will say to you: Let's be serious.
Admit it: You encouraged me to do this thing. And exactly as you say
it was quite natural for me to undertake it, and still is; I concur in
your reasoning, and will pursue it like a fashionable man or

(Marie recoils abruptly. Peltier takes a step forward.)

And I am going to prove it to you!

MARIE (rigid and henceforth not giving an inch)

You are going to see.

(Aubin abruptly opens the door and appears.)

AUBIN (addressing himself exclusively to Peltier)
Yes, it's I, the one you didn't expect. No need to tell you how I
caught wind of your plot and was able to overtake you so soon. The
essential thing is that four officers from the garrison are indeed
willing to serve as seconds and are awaiting us in a nearby woods
with swords and pistols as you please even though I have indeed the
right to choose the weapons.

I'll come with you.

AUBIN (to his wife, aloud, taking her hand which he kisses)
You, Marie, await me here--dead or alive. Do you understand me, my

(Aubin and Peltier leave)

What an affair! Am I really dreaming in the end. (throwing herself on
a sofa which might soon have become dangerous) A little order in my
thoughts. (pressing her fingers to her forehead) There. There.--Yes,
what I was telling Mr. Peltier is still true. I was a spoiled child
when Aubin took me. He spoiled me, too. I became accustomed to
prolonging my childhood and my youth in the married state. I was
willful, demanding, capricious. At the beginning my husband found this
charming, then he tired of it. Quarrels, harshness on his part, on
mine sulks. Seven years later Peltier appeared. A charming man,
surely. But less so than Aubin, now that I see things clearly. And at
bottom, this stupid departure is still more my fault than his. A
moment of feminine scorn which with our mores a man is praised for
profiting from. I couldn't hold it against him just now for wanting
what was implied by our innocent prank  and a little fortitude helped
me confine it to its character of folly and nothing more. But what?
While I tell myself these things, two likable men who both love me,
and of which I decidedly prefer one, my husband, are fighting over me.
O Mercy! Just as if I were a young girl. And indeed! O punishment! Me!
Me! What anguish and what a situation! And the future! During these
sweet words with Aubin just now. I've the great misery of waiting for
him or the other one. All the same, I've resisted. And there was a
moment when I had some merit. But this trip! And this waiting! My God,
you in whom one must believe despite all the opinions of folks these
days, My God--have pity on me in my misery! (long silence during which
she remains prostrated.)

AUBIN (enters, wounded in the shoulder, supported by an Officer)
It's over. Madame Aubin, I present you one of my seconds.

(To the officer)

OFFICER (bowing before Marie)
Count de Givors.

Count de Givors, I present you my wife.

MARIE (who, since her husband's entrance has had eyes only for him,
Sir. (leaping after a fashion on his neck) Ah, my friend. Why, why,
you are wounded.

It's nothing. A bullet that they'll quickly extract from me. And then,
right? as soon as my wound is dressed on our way to Paris? By the way,
you know, Peltier has nothing.

MARIE (literally superb)
Who cares?


AUBIN (immensely joyful)

OFFICER (to both)
Excuse me. (he withdraws after having bowed, escorted out by both)

AUBIN (to his wife)
Explain yourself, Marie.

(Peltier enters)

MARIE (to Peltier)
Sir. Say if you have ever had the right to call yourself my lover?

On my oath as an honest and gallant man which my return to this room
confirms: Aubin, I swear No. This departure was a delirium from which
Madame awakened first, pure and invincible. Invincible because I
wanted to have the last word and she had it; and that was a no not to
be misunderstood.

Indeed, each has fulfilled his duty here. I, after your folly rushed
to get back my wife and to forgive her after a duel. You, Marie,
having remained a good spouse. And I will answer to you that the
misunderstandings which serve to excuse you, are dead forever. How
happy we are going to be. And you, Peltier, what need is there for an
explanation? Given our civilization's disapproval of your attempt to
do me out of my wife, as for me, I'd bear you a grudge, too, if this
bullet weren't in my shoulder. Now this is it: we'll return after my
scratch is dressed. Naturally we will be some while without seeing you
again, Peltier. Aren't you on a trip?

(to Peltier)
And your hand.


* Translator's note. This final speech reads a little strangely and not
just in translation because the idea behind it is a little strange.
Aubin's idea is something like this: "The world condemns you, Peltier,
for tampering with my wife, and I would too, but for the fact you've put
a bullet in my shoulder which proves you're a man of honor, etc." I don't
feel justified in incorporating the explanatory material into the text so
the best I can do is offer this footnote.

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