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This 1894 comedy in three-acts was translated by Barrett Clark. Edmond Rostand later became famous with his writing of Cyrano de Bergerac. The Romancers is best produced with the late 18th century in mind and customs from the Louis XVI period. This light-hearted romance is about two young lovers discovering that love can exist without obstacles and the excitement of danger.
36 pages, with a reading time of ~1.25 hours (9,047 words), and first published in 1894. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2014.
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SCENE: The stage is divided by an old wall, covered with vines and flowers. At the right, a corner of BERGAMIN’s private park; at the left, a corner of PASQUINOT’s. On each side of the wall, and against it, is a rustic bench. As the curtain rises, PERCINET is seated on the top of the wall. On his knee is a book, out of which he is reading to SYLVETTE, who stands attentively listening on the bench which is on the other side of the wall.
SYLVETTE. Monsieur Percinet, how divinely beautiful!
PERCINET. Is it not? Listen to what Romeo answers: [Reading] “It was the lark, the herald of the morn, No nightingale: look, love, what envious streaks Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east. Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops: I must be gone”–
SYLVETTE. [Interrupts him, as she listens.] Sh!
PERCINET. [Listens a moment, then] No one! And, Mademoiselle, you must not take fright like a startled bird. Hear the immortal lovers:
“Juliet. Yon light is not the daylight, I know it, I, It is some meteor that the sun exhales, To be to thee this night a torch-bearer, And light thee on thy way to Mantua: Therefore stay yet, thou need’st not to be gone.
Romeo. Let me be ta’en, let me be put to death; I am content, so thou will have it so. I’ll say, yon gray is not the morning’s eye, ‘Tis but the pale reflex of Cynthia’s brow; Nor that is not the lark, whose notes do beat The vaulty heaven so high above our heads: I have more care to stay than will to go: Come, death and welcome”–
SYLVETTE. No, he must not say such things, or I shall cry.
PERCINET. Then let us stop and read no further until to-morrow. We shall let Romeo live! [He closes the book and looks about him.] This charming spot seems expressly made, it seems to me, to cradle the words of the Divine Will!
SYLVETTE. The verses are divine, and the soft air here is a divine accompaniment. And see, these green shades! But, Monsieur Percinet, what makes them divine to me is the way you read!
SYLVETTE. [Sighing] Poor lovers! Their fate was cruel! [Another sigh] I think–
PERCINET. Something that made you blush red as a rose.
SYLVETTE. Nothing, I say.
PERCINET. Ah, that’s too transparent. I see it all: you are thinking of our fathers!
PERCINET. Of their terrible hatred for each other.
SYLVETTE. The thought often pains me and makes me cry when I am alone. Last month, when I came home from the convent, my father pointed out your father’s park, and said to me: “My dear child, you behold there the domain of my mortal enemy, Bergamin. Never cross the path of those two rascals, Bergamin and his son Percinet. Mark well my words, and obey me to the letter, or I shall cast you off as an enemy. Their family has always been at bitter enmity with our own.” And I promised. But you see how I keep my word!
PERCINET. Did I not promise my father to do the same, Sylvette? Yet I love you!
SYLVETTE. Holy saints!
PERCINET. I love you, my dearest!
SYLVETTE. It’s sinful!
PERCINET. Very–but what can we do? The greater the obstacles to be overcome, the sweeter the reward. Sylvette, kiss me!
SYLVETTE. Never! [She jumps down from the bench and runs off a few steps.]
PERCINET. But you love me?
PERCINET. My dear child: I, too, sometimes think of us and compare you and me with those other lovers–of Verona.
SYLVETTE. But I didn’t compare–!
PERCINET. You and I are Juliet and Romeo; I love you to despair, and I shall brave the wrath of Pasquinot-Capulet and Bergamin-Montague!
SYLVETTE. [Coming a little nearer to the wall] Then we love? But how, Monsieur Percinet, has it happened so soon?
PERCINET. Love is born we know not how, because it must be born. I often saw you pass my window–
SYLVETTE. I saw you, too!
PERCINET. And our eyes spoke in silence.
SYLVETTE. One day I was gathering nuts in the garden by the wall–
PERCINET. One day I happened to be reading Shakespeare. See how everything conspired to unite two hearts!
SYLVETTE. And a little gust of wind blew my scarf in your direction.
PERCINET. I climbed to the wall to return it–
SYLVETTE. [Climbing the wall again] I climbed too!
PERCINET. And since that day, my dear, I have waited at the same hour, here by this wall; and each time my heart beat louder and faster, until I knew by your soft laugh that you were near!
SYLVETTE. Now since we love, we must be married.
PERCINET. I was just thinking about that.
SYLVETTE. [Solemnly] I, last of the Pasquinots, do solemnly pledge myself to you, last of the Bergamins.
PERCINET. What noble recklessness!
SYLVETTE. We shall be sung in future ages!
PERCINET. Two tender children of two hard-hearted fathers!
SYLVETTE. But who knows whether the hour is not at hand when our fathers’ hatred may end?