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Hector will stay in the garden pavilkm.
Is it ready for him?

PonuBR. I shall see to it at onoe.

DuxB. I am very sorry, monsieur, to
cause you any annoyance —

Gaston. None at all; Monsieur Poirier
will be only too happy —

Poiribr. Too happy —

Gaston. And you will of course give
orders that the little blue coup6 be placed
at his disposal?

Poiribr. The one I usually use — ?

Dytkb. Oh, I positively refuse —

Poiribr. But I can ea^y hire one; thsfs
is a stand at the end of the street.

Vbrdblbt [aside]. Fool! Idiot t

Gaston [to the Duxb]. Now, let us tske
a look at the stables. Yesterday I got a
superb Arabian — 3rou can tell me wfast
you think of him. Ck>me.

DuKB [to Poiribr]. Witii your permis-
sion, monsieur. Grsston is impatient to
show me his luxurious surroundings. I
don't blame him. He can then tell me more
about you.

Poiribr. Monsieur le Due is weQ ac-
quainted with my son-in-law's ddiicate na-
ture and tastes.

Gabftov [aside to the Dxske], You'll spofl
my father-in-biwl [Qcing toward the door,



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419



ofMi $topping,] By the way, Monneor
Poirier, you know I am giving a grand
dinner party to-morrow night. Will you
give us the pleasure of your company?

PoiRiEB. No, thank jrou — I am dining
with Verddet.

Gaston. Ah, Monsieur Verdelet, I am
Tery angry with you for carrying off my
father-in-law every time I have company
here.

VBHDXiar [atide]. ImpertinentI

PoiUBB. A man of my age would only
be in the wayl

Vbbdblbt [atide]. You old Qdronte!

Gaston. Ab you please, Monsieur
Pdurier. [He goet out wUh the Duxb.]

Vkbdblbt. I tell you, that son-in-law of
yours is mighty obsequious with 3rou. You
warned me beforehand: you'd Imow how
to make him respect 3rou.

PcHBiBB. I'm doing what pleases me.
I prefer to be loved than feared.

Vbbdblbt. You've not alwajrs thought
that way. Well, you've succeeded: jrour
son-in-law is on a more familiar footing
witii you than with the other servants.

PomiEB. I can do without your clever
remarks, and I advise you to mind your
ownbudnesB.

Vkbdkixt. This is my own business, I
ten you! Are n't we partners? Why, we're
a little like the Suunese twins. Now, when
you grovel before that marquis, I have a
hard time keeping my temper.

PonnB. Grovel? Asif — ? That mar*
quist Do you think I am dassled by his
title? I've alwajTS been more of a Uberal
than you, and I still am. I don't care a
snap of my finger for the nobility! Ability
and virtue are the'only social distinctions
ihat I recognise and before which I bow



Vbbdbiat. Is your son-m-law virtuous?

PoiBiBB. You make me tired. Do you
want me to make him feel that he owes
everything tome?

Vbbdblbt. Oh, oh; you have become
very considerate in your old age — the re-
sult of your economical habits, doubtless.
Look hexe, Poirier, I never did approve of
this marriage; you know that I always
wanted my dear goddaughter to marry a



man from our own class. But you refused
to listen to reason —

PoiBiBB. Ha, ha! Usten to monsieur!
That's the last straw!

Vbbbblbt. Well, why not?

PoiBiEB. Oh, Monsieur Verdelet, you are
most clever and you have the noblest
ideals; you have reiul amusing books, you
have your own ideas an every subject, but
in the matter of common sense, I can give
you enormous odds.

Vbbdblbt. Oh, as to common sense —
you mean business sense. I don't deny
that: you've pfled up four millions, white
I ' ve barely made forty thousand a year.

PouuBB. And that you owe to me.

Vbbdblbt. I don't deny it. What I have
I owe to you. But it is all going eventu-
ally to your daughter, after your son-in-
law has ruined you.

PoiBiBB. Ruined me?

Vbbdbijbt. Yes — within ten years.

PoiBiBB. You're orasy.

Vbbdbijbt. At the rate he's going now,
you know only too well how long it will
take him to run through his money.

Poibibb. Wdl, that's' my business.

Vbbdblbt. If you were the only oii»
concerned, I'd never opm my lips.

Poibibr. Why not? Don't you take
any interest in my welfare? You don't
care, then, if I am ruined? I, who have
made your fortune?

VBBmDLBT. What is the matter with you?'

PoiBiBR. I don't like ungrateful people.

Vbbdblbt. The devil! You're taking
out your son-in-law's familiarities on me.
I was going to say, if you were the only
one cmcemed, I could at least be patient
about it: you aren't my godson, but it
happens that your daughter is my god-
daughter.

PomBR. I was a (wA to give you that
right over her.

Vbbdblbt. You might easQy have found
some one who loved her less.

PoniBB. Yes, yes, I know — you lov»
ha more than I do — I know, you claim
that — and you've even persuaded her —

Vbbdblbt. Are we going to quarrel
about that again? For Heaven's sak%
then, go ahead!



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PoiBiBB. I will go ahead! Do jou
think I like to see myself left out, podied
aside by a straagert Have I no phoe in my
own daughter's heart?

Vbbdblbt. She has the tenderest affec-
tion for yoa —

PoiBDBB. That's not so: you've taken
my plaoe. All her seoiets, all her nice
ideasmg little wasrs are for 3^00.

Vbbdblbt. Because I don't make her
afraid. How can you expect the little one
to be confidential with an old bear like you?
She can never find an opening, you're al^
ways so crabbed.

PoiRiBB. Welly you are the one who has
made me play the part of a kill- joy^ while
you usurp that of a sugar-i^um father.
It's not right to make up to diildrea by
giving in to all their wishes, and forgetting
what's good for them. That's loving them
for your own sake, instead of for theirs.

Vbbdblbt. Now, Poirier, you know very
well that when the real interests of your
daughter were at stake, her whims were
opposed by me, and by me alone. Heaven
Imows, I went against poor Toinon's wishes
in this marriage, whOe you were ass eoou^
to urge her on.

PoiBiBm. She was in love with the Mar-
quis. — Let me read my paper.

[He mi9 dawn and run$ hU eyn
over the ''ConMuHannd."]

Vbbdblbt. It's all very weU for yon
to say the child was in love: you foroed
her into it. You brought the Marquis de
Presleshere.

PoiBiBR Iridng], Another one has ar-
rived at the topi Monsiear Miohaud, the
ironmaster, has ]ust been i^ypomted a
peer of France.

Vbbdblbt. What do I care?

PoiRiBB. What do you care! Does it
make no difference to yon to eee a man of
our class arrive at the top? To see the
Government honor industry in calling one
of her representatives into its midst?
Don't you think it admirable that we live
in a country and an age in which labor
opens every door? You have a ri|^t to
look forward to becoming a peer some day,
and you ask, "What do I care?"

Vbbdblbt. Heaven preserve me frosn



aspifing to the peoragel And &avea pie*
serve my country wbtBa I beoome a peerl

PoDUBB. But wl^? Can't Monaieov
Miohaud M his positicm?

Vbbdblbt. Monsieur Michaiid is not
only a business man, but a man of gre at
peesonal merit. Motidre's father was an
upholsterer, but thi^ is no reason whf
every uphobteier's son sbovild believe
himself a poet.

Poibibb. I tell you, oommeroe is the
tiuB school for statesmen. Who shall lay
his hand on the wheel unless it is those who
have first learned to steer their own barks?

Vbbdblbt. A bark is not a shipt and a
littie captain is not necessarily a tni9
pilot, ai^ France is no con^merdal house.
I can hardly restrain myself when I see this
mania taking root in people's minds. Ide*
dare, you ought imagine that stateeman*
ship in this country was nothing more than
a pastime for people who have nothing els*
to do! A business man like you or me at-
tends to his own little concerns for thir^
years; he makes his fortune, and one fiiw
day ck)se8 his shop and s^ up business as
a statesman. With no more effort than that!
Very simple receipt! Good Lord, mes-
sieurs, you might just as well say, "I have
measured so many yards of doth, and I
therefore know how to {day the vic^!"

PontiBB. I don't eicaotly see what eon-
Beotion — ?

Vbbdblbt. Instead of thinking about
governing Fhmce, learn to govern your
own home. Don't many off your daughtem
to ruined marquesses iriio imagine they are
doing you an honor in allowing you to pay
off thedr debts with your own hard cash —

PoniBB. Are you saying that for me — X

Vbbdbukt. No; for myself I

lErUer Antoinbttb.]

AmoiMBTTB. How are you, Mher?
How is everything? Hello, godfather. Ara
you going to have lunch with us? How nice
you are!

PonuBB. He is nice. But what am I,
I who invited him?

Antoinbttb. You are charming.

PoQtiBE. But <mly when I invite Verda-
let. Agreeable f<Nr roel



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AjsreotHwm. Where is my huribandT

PomiBB. In the etftble. Where else
would he be?

Antoinvitb. Do you blame him for
HloBg horses? Is n't it natural to a gen-
tleman to like horses and arms — ?

PonuBB. Oh, yes, but I wish he cared
for something else.

ANTODOBTrs. He is very fond of the
arts: poetry, painting, music.

PoiBiBB.^ Huh, the agreeable artsi



VBBiffiiJR. Would you expect him to
care for unpleasant arts? Would you want
him to play the piano?

PonuBB. There you are again, taking
his part before Toinon. You're trying to
get into her good graces. [To Amtoinbttb.]
He was just telling me that your husband
was ruining me. Did n't you?

Vbbdblbt. Yes, but all you have to do
ii to pull tight your purse-strings.

PoiBiBB. It would be much simpler if
the young man had some occupation.

Vbbdblbt. It seems to me that he is
ipoy much occupied as it is.

PontiBB. Yes: spendmg money from
morning tlU nic^t. I 'd prefer a more
hioraiive occupation.

Amtoinbttb. What, for instance? He
can't sell cloth.

PoiBiBB. He wouldn't be able to. I
don't ask for so very much, after all. Let
knn take a position that befits his rank:
sn embassy, for instance*

Vbbdblbt. An embassy? You don't take
IB embassy the way you take cold.

PoniEB. When a man is called the Mar-
quis de Presles, he can aspire to anjrthing.

AirromBTTB. But on the oth<ur hand,
father, he need not aqnre to anything.

Vbbdeubt. That's true. Your son-in-
law has his own ideas —

PoiRiBB. Only one: to be lasy.

ANTOiNBTm. That's not fair, father:
my husband has very fine ideab.

Vbbdblbt. At least, if he hasn't, he
possesses that chivalrous obstinacy of his
lank. Do you think for one moment that
your son-in-law is going to give up the
traditions of his family, jast for the sake of
changing his lasy life?



PonuBB. You don't know my son-in-
law, Verdelet; I have studied 1dm thor-
ouc^y — I cUd that before giving my
daughtCT to him. He's hare-brained, and
the li^tnees of his character prevents his
being obstinate. As to his family tradi-
tions, — well, if he had thought very much
of them he would never have married Ma-
demoisdle Poirier.

Vbbdblbt. That makes no difference.
It would have been much wiser to have
sounded him on this subject before the
marriage.

PonuBB. What a fool you are! It
would have looked as if I were making a
bargain with him, and he would have re-
fused point-bUmk. You cant get things of
that sort unless you go about it in the
right way, slowly, tenaciously, persever-
ingiy. He has been living here this past
tlnee mcmths on the fat of the land.

Vbbdblbt. I see: you wanted to make it
pleasant for him before you came down to
business.

PoiBDBB. Exactly. [To Antoinbttb.]
A man is always indulgent toward his wife
during the honeymoon. Now> if you sak
him in anioe way — in theevening — when
you're taking down your hair — ?

Antoinbttb. Oh, father — I

Poibibb. That's the way Madame
Poirier used to get me to promise to take
bat to the Opdra — I always took her the
next day. See?

Antoinvitb. But I'd never dare speak
to my husband on so serious a subject.

PoisiBB. Your dowry will surely give
you a good enough right to speak.

Antoinbttb. He would only shrug his
shoulders, and not answer.

Vbudblbv. Does he do tiiat when you
talk with him?

ANTonnsTTB. No, but —

Vbbdblbt. Ah, you look away! So your
husband treats you a little — ? I've been
afraid of that.

Poibier. Have 3rou any reason to com-
plain of him?

ANTomviTB. No, father.

Poibibb. Does n't he love you?

Antoinbttb. I don't say that.

Poibibb. Then what do you say?



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. Antoinettb. Nothing.

Verdelet. Come, dear, you should
speak frankly with your old friends. Our
whole object in life is to look after your
happiness. Whom have you left to confide
in unless it's your father and your god-
father? Are you imhappy?

Antoinette. I have n't the right to be:
my husband is very kind and good.

PomiEB. Well, then?

Vebdelbt. But is that enough? He's
kind and good, but he pays no more at-
tention to you than to some pretty doll,
does he?

Antoinette. It's my fault. I'm so
timid with him; I've never dared open my
heart to him. I'm sure he thinks me a little
boarding-school miss who wanted to be-
come a marquise.

PoiBiEB. The fool I

Verdelet. Why don't you ezplam to
him?

Antoinette. I tried to more than once,
but the tone of his first answer was so differ-
ent from what I thought it should be, that
I couldn't continue. There are certain
kinds of intimacy that must be encouraged
— the heart has a reticence of its own.
You ought to be able to understand that,
dear Tony?

PonuEB. Well, what about me? Don't
I understand, too?

Antoinette. You, too, father. How
can I tell Gaston that it was n't his title
that pleased me, but his manners, his
mind, his knightly bearing, his contempt
for the pettinesses of life? How can I tell
him that he is the man of my dreams —
how can I do that if he stops me at once
with some joke?

PoiRiBB. That shows the boy Is in a
good humor.

Verdelet. No: it's because his wife
bores him.

PonuER [to Antoinbtte]. Do you bore
your husband?

Antoinette. I'm afraid I do I

PoiRiER. I tell you it is n't you, but his
own confounded laziness that bores him.
A husband does n't love his wife very long
when he has nothing else to do but to love
her.



Antoinette. Is that true, Tony?

PoiRiBR. /'m telling youl You need n't
ask Verdelet.

Verdelet. Yes, I do believe that pas-
sion is soon exhausted unless it is msLn^^
like a fortime: economically.

PoiBiER. Every man wants to be actively
engaged in some pursuit. When his way is
baned, that desire*is wasted, lost.

Verdelet. A wife should be the i>raoocii-
pation, not the occupation, of her husband.

PoiRiBR. Why did I always adme your
mother? Because I never had time to
think about her.

Verdelet. Your husband has twenty-
four hours a day to love you —

PonuER. That's twelve too many.

Antoinette. You're opening my eyes.

PoiRiER. Let him take a position and
ever3rthing will turn out satisfactorily.

Antoinette. What do you say, Tony?

Verdelet. Possiblyl The diflKculty is
in making him take the position.

PonuER. Leave that to me. Leave the
matter in my hands.

Verdelet. Are you going to attack the
question at once?

PonuER. No, but I shall after lundi. I
have noticed that the Marquis is in splen-
did humor after his meals.

[Enter Gaston and the Duke.]

Gaston lintroducing the Duke to hu
wife]. My dear Antoinette, Monsieur ds
Montmeyran, who is not entirely unknown
to you.

Antoinette. Gaston has told me so
much about you, monsieur, that I aeem to
be shaking hands with an old friend.

Duke. You are not mistaken, madame;
you have made me feel that only a moment
was necessary to resume, as it were, a
former friendship. [Aside to tke Mabqud.]
Your wife is charmingl

Gaston [aside to tke Duke]. Yes, die is
nice. (To Antoinette.] I have some good
news for you: Hector is going to stay with
us during his leave.

Antoinette. How good of you, mon-
sieurl I trust your leave is a long one?

Duke. One month, after idiich I letoni
to Africa.



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Vbbbblbt. You afford wi a noble ex-
ample. Monsieur le Duo: you do not con-
sider lasinesB as a family inheritance.

Gaston [amde]. Ahal Monsieur Verde-
lei.

[Enter a Servant, carrying a pidwre,]

Sbrvamt. This picture has just come
for Monsieur le Marquis.

Gaston. Lay it on that chair, by the
window. There — good. [The Servant goee
ifuL] Just look at it, Montmeyran.

DuKB. Charming — beautiful evening
effect I Don't you think so, madame?

Amtoinbttb. Yes — charming — and
how real it isl And how calm and quiet.
You feel as if you would like to walk eibont
in that sflent landscape.

PoiRiKB [aeide to VmDBLBr]. Peer of
France 1

Gaston. Just look at that strip of green-
ish light, running between the orange tones
of ^e horison, and that cold blue of the rest
of the sky. Spl^idid technique I

DuKB. Then the foreground! And the
coloring, the handling of the whole thing!

Gaston. Then the almost imperceptible
reflection of that little spot of water be-
hind the foliage — charming!

PoiRiEB. Let's take a look at it, Ver-
delet. (PoiBiBB and Ybbdblet go to look
at the picture.] Well? What does it repre-
sent?

Ybbdblbt. It represents some fields at
nine o'clock at night.

PoiRiBB. The subject is n't interesting;
it doesn't tdl ansrthing. In my room I
have an engraving showing a dog on the sea-
shore barking at a sailor's hat. There now,
you can understand that: it's clever, and
simi^ and touching.

Gaston. My dear Monsieur Poirier, if
you like touching pictures, let me have
one made for you; the subject I take from
nature: on the table is a little onion, cut in
quarters, a poor little white onion. The
knife lies beside it. Nothing at all, and yet
it bringi tears to the eyes!

Ybbdblbt (amde (0 PonuBB]. He's mak-
ing fun of you.



PoiRiBB [aside to Vbbdblbt]. Very well
— let him!

DuKB. Who painted this landscape?

Gaston. Poor devil — lots of talent —
but he has n't a sou.

PoiBiBB. What did you pay for the
picture?

Gaston. Fifty louis.

PontiBB. Fifty louis? For the picture of
an unknown paints who is dying of
hunger! If you'd gone around at meal-
time you could have got it for twenty-
five francs.

Antoinbttb. Oh, father!

PoiBiBB. A fine exami^ of misplaced
generosity!

Gaston. Then you don't think that the
arts should be protected?

PoiRiBR. Protect the arts as much as
you like, but not the artists — they're all
rascals or debauchees. Why, the stories
they tell about them are enouc^ to raise the
hair on your head, things I could n't repeat
to my own daughter.

Verdelbt [aside to Poirier]. What?

PontiBR [aside to Vbbdblbt]. They say,
old man, that —

[He takes Vbbdblbt to one side
and whispers to him],

Vbbdblbt. And do you believe things
of that kind?

PoiRiBB. The people who told me knew
what they were talking about.

[Enter a Servant,]

Servant. Dinner is served.

Poirier [to the Servant], Bring up a
bottle of 1811 Pomard. [To the Duke.]
The year of the comet. Monsieur le Due —
fifteen francs a bottle! The king drinks no
better. [Ancfe to Vbbdblbt.] You must n't
drink any — neither will I!

Gaston [to the Duke]. Fifteen francs a
bottle, to be returned when empty!

Vbbdblbt [aside to Poirier]. Are you
going to allow him to make f im of you like
that?

PoiRiEB [aside to Vbbdblbt]. In mat-
ters of this sort, you must take your time.
[They all go out,]



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ACT II

[The scene is the same. As the curtain
rieest Verdblbt, Poibibb, Gaston, the
Duke, and Amtoinbttb enter from the
dining-room.]

Gaston. Well, Hector, what do you
say? This 18 the house, and this 18 what we
do every mortal day. Can you imagme a
happier man on earth than myadf?

DuxB. I must confess that you make
me very envious; you almost reconcile me
to the idea of marriage.

Antoinbttb [aeide to VBRDBLarr].
CSiarming 3roung man, that Duke de
Montmeyran, is n't he?

Vbbbblbt [aeide to Antoinbttb]. Yes,
I like him.

Gaston. Monsieur Ponrier, I must say,
you are an excellent soul. Believe me, I'm
not in the least ungrateful to you.

PoiRiBB. Oh, Monsieur le MarquisI

Gaston. Come, now, call me Gaston.
Ah, Monsieur Verdelet, I am delighted to
see you.

Antoinbttb. He is a member of the
family, dear.

Gaston. Shake hands, unde!

Verdelbt [shaking hands vfith Gaston
— aside]. He's not so bad after all!

Gaston. You can't deny, Hector, that
I'm downrii^t lucky. Monsieur Poirier,
something has been weighing on my con-
science. You know, you think of nothing
but how to make my existence one long
series of good times. Will you never give
me a chance to repay you? Try, now, I beg
you, to think of something I mi^t do f<H*
you in return — anything in my power.

PoiBiBR. Well, since you're in so good
a humor, let me have a quarter of an hour's
conversation with you — a sorious oon-

DuKB. I shall be f^ad to retire —
Poirier. Oh, please don't, monsieur; be
good enough to stay with us. This is going
to be a kind of family council. You are not
at all in the way, any more than is Mon-
sieur Verdelet.

Gaston. What the devil, father-in-law I
A family councill Are you going to have
me out under a legal adviser?



PomEBR. Far from it, my dear Qasloii,
Let us sit down.

[They aU seai themsekm,]

Gaston. Monsieur Poirier has the floor.

Poirier. You say you are happy, my
dear Gaston. That is the finest reoom-
pense I could have.

Gaston. I ask nothing better than to
increase my gratitude twofold.

PonuBR. You have spent three months
of your haneymootk in ^ lap of idleness
and luxury, and I think that tiiat part of
the romance ia enou^. It's now time to
give your attenticm to hard facts.

Gaston. You talk like a book, I do de-
clare! Very well, let us give our attentioo
to history.

Poirier. What do you intend to do?

Gaston. To-day?

Poirier. And to-morrow — in the fu-
ture. You surely have some idea?

Gaston. Of course: to-day I intend to
do what I did yesterday; to-morrow what
I did to-day. I'm not capricious, even
thoufi^ I may appear light-hearted. So
long as the future promises to be as bri|^t
as tiie present, I am content.

PoiRiBR. And yet you are far too rea-
sonable a man to believe that the hon^*
moon can hist forever.

Gaston. Exactly; too reasonable, and
too well posted on astronomy — but, d
course, you have read Heinrich Heine?

Poirier. You have, have n't you, Vef^
delet?

Verdelet. I admit I have.

PonuER. Yes; he passed his sohool-dayB
playing truant.

Gaston. Well, wbaa Heinridi Heme
was asked what became of all tlie fidl
moons, he replied that they were brokeo in
pieces and made into stars.

Poirier. I don't quite see —

Gaston. When our honeymoon grows
old, we shall break it up, and there will re-
main enough fragments to make a whole
Mflky Way.

Poirier. Very pretty idea, I suppose.

Duke. The sole merit of which is its
extreme simplicity.

Poirier. But, seriously, son-in-law,
does n't this lasy life you are leading seem



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Gabion. That ia because all noeee are



DuKB. Within six incheel

PoiBiBB. Then don't you think that
men are?

Gaston. It's a question.

PomnsR. Which was decided long ago,
Monsieur le Marquis.

DxTKB. Our rights and priyileges have
been abolished, but not our duties. Of all
that remains to us Hkere are but two words,
but they are words whidi nothing can
snatch from us: Noblesse oblige I No mat-
ter what happens, we shall abide by a
code more severe than the law, that mjrs-
terioQS code which we call honor.

PonusB. Well, Monsieur le Marquis, it
is very fortunate for your honor that my
honesty pays your debts. Only, as I am not
a gentleman, I warn you that I shall do my
bMt to get out of this fix as cheaply as I
can.

Gaston. You must be very clever, in-
deed, to make any sort of compromise with
those highway robbers: they are masters of
the situation.

[BeMer Antoinbttb.]

PonasB. Well see, well see. [Aside,]
I have an idea: I'm going to play my own
littie game. [Aloud,] I'll go at once, so
that ihey shan't get impatient.

DiTKB. No, don't wait; they will devour
you if you do. [PomiBB goes out,]

Gaston. Poor Monsieur Poirier, I feel
sorry tar him. This latest revelation takes
away aU his pleasure in paying my debts.

DuKB. Listen to me: there are very few
peajple who know how to be robbed. It is
an art worthy a great lord.

[Enter a Servant.]

Sbbvant. Messieurs de ligny and de
ChaaeroUes would like to speak to Mon-



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