ACT I. SCENE I.—OCTAVE, SILVESTRE.
Oct. Ah! what sad news for one in love! What a hard fate to be reduced to! So, Silvestre, you have just heard at the harbour that my father is coming back?
Oct. That he returns this very morning?
Sil. This very morning.
Oct. With the intention of marrying me?
Sil. Of marrying you.
Oct. To a daughter of Mr. Géronte?
Sil. Of Mr. Géronte.
Oct. And that this daughter is on her way from Tarentum for that purpose?
Sil. For that purpose.
Oct. And you have this news from my uncle?
Sil. From your uncle.
Oct. To whom my father has given all these particulars in a letter?
Sil. In a letter.
Oct. And this uncle, you say, knows all about our doings?
Sil. All our doings.
Oct. Oh! speak, I pray you; don't go on in such a way as that, and force me to wrench everything from you, word by word.
Sil. But what is the use of my speaking? You don't forget one single detail, but state everything exactly as it is.
Oct. At least advise me, and tell me what I ought to do in this wretched business.
Sil. I really feel as much perplexed as you, and I myself need the advice of some one to guide me.
Oct. I am undone by this unforeseen return.
Sil. And I no less.
Oct. When my father hears what has taken place, a storm of reprimands will burst upon me.
Sil. Reprimands are not very heavy to bear; would to heaven I were free at that price! But I am very likely to pay dearly for all your wild doings, and I see a storm of blows ready to burst upon my shoulders.
Oct. Heavens! how am I to get clear of all the difficulties that beset my path!
Sil. You should have thought of that before entering upon it.
Oct. Oh, don't come and plague me to death with your unreasonable lectures.
Sil. You plague me much more by your foolish deeds.
Oct. What am I to do? What steps must I take? To what course of action have recourse?
SCENE II.—OCTAVE, SCAPIN, SILVESTRE.
Sca. How now, Mr. Octave? What is the matter with you? What is it? What trouble are you in? You are all upset, I see.
Oct. Ah! my dear Scapin, I am in despair; I am lost; I am the most unfortunate of mortals.
Sca. How is that?
Oct. Don't you know anything of what has happened to me?
Oct. My father is just returning with Mr. Géronte, and they want to marry me.
Sca. Well, what is there so dreadful about that?
Oct. Alas! you don't know what cause I have to be anxious.
Sca. No; but it only depends on you that I should soon know; and I am a man of consolation, a man who can interest himself in the troubles of young people.
Oct. Ah! Scapin, if you could find some scheme, invent some plot, to get me out of the trouble I am in, I should think myself indebted to you for more than life.
Sca. To tell you the truth, there are few things impossible to me when I once set about them. Heaven has bestowed on me a fair enough share of genius for the making up of all those neat strokes of mother wit, for all those ingenious gallantries to which the ignorant and vulgar give the name of impostures; and I can boast, without vanity, that there have been very few men more skilful than I in expedients and intrigues, and who have acquired a greater reputation in the noble profession....