A monologue from the play by Moliere
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Dramatic Works of Moliere, Vol. III. Ed. Charles Heron Wall. London: George Bell & Sons, 1891.
ZERBINETTE: I shall not risk much by telling you this story, for it is an adventure which is not likely to remain secret long. Fate placed me among one of those bands of people who are called gypsies, and who, tramping from province to province, tell you your fortune, and do many other things besides. When we came to this town, I met a young man, who, on seeing me, fell in love with me. From that moment he followed me everywhere; and, like all young men, he imagined that he had but to speak and things would go on as he liked; but he met with a pride which forced him to think twice. He spoke of his love to the people in whose power I was, and found them ready to give me up for a certain sum of money. But the sad part of the business was that my lover found himself exactly in the same condition as most young men of good family, that is, without any money at all. His father, although rich, is the stingiest old skinflint and greatest miser you ever heard of. And our people wished to leave town today, and my lover would have lost me through his lack of money if, in order to wrench some out of his father, he had not made use of a clever servant he has. His name is Scapin. He is a most wonderful man and deserves the highest praise. Just listen to the plan he adopted to take in his dupe–ha! ha! ha! ha! I can’t think of it without laughing–ha! ha! ha! He went to that old screw–ha! ha! ha!–and told him that while he was walking about the harbour with his son–ha! ha!–they noticed a Turkish galley; that a young Turk had invited them to come in and see it; that he had given them some lunch–ha! ha!–and that, while they were at table, the galley had gone into the open sea; that the Turk had sent him alone back, with the express order to say to him that, unless he sent five hundred crowns, he would take his son to be a slave in Algiers–ha! ha! ha! You may imagine our miser, our stingy old curmudgeon, in the greatest anguish, struggling between his love for his son and his love for his money. Those five hundred crowns that are asked of him are five hundred dagger-thrusts–ha! ha! ha! ha! He can’t bring his mind to tear out, as it were, this sum from his heart, and his anguish makes him think of the most ridiculous means to find money for his son’s ransom–ha! ha! ha! He wants to send the police into the open sea after the Turk’s galley–ha! ha! ha! He asks his servant to take the place of his son till he has found the money to pay for him–money he has no intention of giving–ha! ha! ha! The servant shows him each time how absurd is what he proposes, and each reflection of the old fellow is accompanied by an agonizing, “But why the devil did he go in that galley for? Ah! cursed galley. Ah! scoundrel of Turk!” At last, after many hesitations, after having sighed and groaned for a long time … but it seems to me that my story does not make you laugh. Why aren’t you laughing?