The Bourgeois Nobleman by Molière
Go to the other acts: Act 1 | Act 3


Scene 1

M. JORDAN (To his Pages) Follow me. I'm going to promenade my new suit around the town. It's important that you walk very close behind me, so that everyone can see that you're mine.
PAGES Yes, sir.
M. JORDAN Where's Nicole? I need to give her some instructions for this evening. Nicole! (Enter NICOLE, who immediately breaks into uncontrollable giggling, at the sight of M. Jordan) Ah, Nicole, listen…I need you to….Listen!…What's so funny?…What is the meaning of this? Cheeky monkey!….
NICOLE (Helpless with laughter) Oh, oh, please! That suit! Oh my God!…
M. JORDAN What's the meaning of this? Do you dare to laugh at me?
NICOLE Oh, mercy! Please monsieur!
M. JORDAN Stop laughing this minute, or I'll box your ears for you…
NICOLE Monsieur, I can't help it!
M. JORDAN Do you refuse to stop?
NICOLE Forgive me, monsieur, but…but, it's so funny!
M. JORDAN What, exactly, is so funny, you insolent hussy?
NICOLE Your get-up, monsieur! Oh, oh God! (she's off again)
M. JORDAN I tell you, I'll….
NICOLE Oh, please, monsieur, let me go, I can't take much more of this.
M. JORDAN For the last time. Stop this giggling now, or I'll beat you to within an inch of your life. Do you understand me?
NICOLE (Stops giggling at last) Perfectly, sir. I've stopped.
M. JORDAN Right. Now, for this evening, I need you to (Nicole starts again)…I need you to make sure….I need you to make sure that everything is properly cleaned…Dammit, girl, are you starting again?
NICOLE Oh, beat me, monsieur! Please! Just beat me and let me laugh! I can't bear it! I'd rather laugh my fill and take a beating for it!
M. JORDAN So help me….!
NICOLE I beg you, sir, let me laugh!
M. JORDAN I swear, if I catch you…
NICOLE (On the floor) Monsieur! Help, I'll die if I don't let it out! Ugh!
M. JORDAN Was there ever such an insolent slut? How dare you come in here and laugh in my face when you should be taking orders?
NICOLE What do you want doing, monsieur?
M. JORDAN I want my whole house cleaned and prepared for company this evening.
NICOLE (Getting up, serious) Ah, I've suddenly lost my urgent need to laugh. I know your 'company' and the mess they leave behind them. The very word 'company' is enough to put me in a bad mood.
M. JORDAN What? Should I close my doors to people?
NICOLE There are certain people I could name to whom you would do well to close your doors.
  (Enter Madame Jordan)
MADAME J. Ah ha! And what's this latest nonsense, husband? Have you gone stark staring mad, getting yourself up in such a paraphernalia? You look like a circus pony! Do you want the whole world to laugh at you?
M.JORDAN Those who do so will be fools.
MADAME J. Really, they didn't need to wait for this! Everyone has had plenty of opportunity to laugh at your antics for some time!
M. JORDAN And who might this 'everyone' be, exactly?
MADAME J. This everyone would be everyone who is sane and sensible, and therefore quite different from yourself! I am appalled at the way you carry on these days. I hardly recognise this house. Every day it's like a carnival in here, and from the crack of dawn we're subjected to a cacophony of musicians, dancers and singers. No wonder all the neighbours are always complaining.
NICOLE Madame is dead right! How am I supposed to keep this place clean with the shower of layabouts you bring in here every day? They have the sort of shoes that pick up dirt specially, from every corner of the town, just to bring it in here and deposit it on our freshly-polished floor.
M. JORDAN Oy! Shut your prattling! You are a servant and a peasant!
MADAME J Nicole is right. She has a lot more sense than you do. Kindly tell me what you are doing with a dancing master, at your age?
NICOLE And with a great clodhopping fencing master, who comes stomping through the house, shaking the walls so much that the tiles fall off them?
M. JORDAN Shut up, the both of you!
MADAME J Are you hoping to have learnt how to dance by the time your legs finally give out on you?
NICOLE Do you have someone you'd like to kill?
M. JORDAN Will you both shut up? You're a pair of ignorant females who understand nothing of the need for social skills.
MADAME J You would do better to devote your time and energy to finding a decent husband for your daughter. She is of an age, now, when she needs to get married.
M. JORDAN I shall marry my daughter when a suitable prospective husband presents himself. In the meantime, I need to concentrate on improving my mind.
NICOLE The latest addition, madame, to his little circus of performers, is a philosopher!
M. JORDAN And why not? I wish to acquire witty repartee, and be able to discuss things earnestly with civilised people.
MADAME J Why not just go back to school and be done with it. You could do with a good caning!
M. JORDAN I'd gladly take a caning if it meant learning some of the things they teach in school.
NICOLE Well, it might improve the curve of your leg!
MADAME J And it would be essential to the smooth running of your household!
M. JORDAN You can mock, both of you, but you are talking rubbish and I'm ashamed of your ignorance. For example, do you realise what you are talking right now?
MADAME J I'm talking sense. What are you talking? Nonsense!
M. JORDAN I don't mean that. I mean what are we talking to each other, at the moment? What is it?
MADAME J It's poppycock, that's what it is!
M. JORDAN Ah ha! Now that's where you're wrong! What is the language, the words, that at this moment in time we are both speaking, as we speak, so to speak?
M. JORDAN What is it actually called?
MADAME J For pity's sake, you tell me what it's called.
M. JORDAN Very well, you ignoramus. It's prose.
M. JORDAN Yes, prose. All that is prose is not poetry. And all that is poetry is not prose! Ha! You see? You see the benefits of having studied? And you, Nicole, do you know what to do to say an U?
M. JORDAN What do you do when you say U?
M. JORDAN Say U. Go on.
NICOLE Alright. U.
M. JORDAN Now, what are you doing?
NICOLE I'm saying U.
M. JORDAN Yes, but when you say U, what are you doing?
NICOLE I'm doing what you told me to do.
M. JORDAN No, no, no! Oh, why must I have to educate imbeciles? You were separating the two jaws, stretching the corners of the mouth out towards the ears, and opening the mouth wide in a grin. See? A grin, see? U.
NICOLE Lovely!
MADAME J Unbelievable!
M. JORDAN That's nothing! You should see what's involved in an O! And as for consonants…well!
MADAME J What is the meaning of all this stuff and nonsense?
NICOLE And, more to the point, what is its point?
M JORDAN God preserve us from ignorant women!
MADAME J It's time you sent all those people packing, with their fatuous follies!
NICOLE Especially that great slob of a fencing master, with his muddy shoes all over my clean floor…
M JORDAN Ah ha! That fencing master could do you a favour if you were only to afford him some respect . I will demonstrate. (To the Pages) Bring me the foils. (The foils are brought on for him, and he hands one to Nicole) Now, watch. When you lunge in quarte you simply do this, and when you lunge in tierce you simply do that. And you are guaranteed never to be killed. Pretty reassuring when you're in a fight with someone, eh? Go on, try lunging at me now.
NICOLE Like this? (She lunges and hits him several times)
M. JORDAN Oof! Good! Steady on! Ouch! You cheeky little vixen!
NICOLE You said to lunge.
M. JORDAN Yes, but you lunged in tierce before lunging in quarte, and you didn't wait for me to parry.
MADAME J. Husband, you have gone raving mad. And it's all started since you began hobnobbing with noblemen.
M. JORDAN By hobnobbing with noblemen, as you put it, I demonstrate my good taste and judgement. Unlike those who choose instead to hobnob with the bourgeoisie.
MADAME J Oh, yes! There's much to be gained by consorting with noblemen! And you have been so canny in your dealings with that Count of yours, the one you're so besotted with.
M. JORDAN Silence! You know nothing of such matters. Count Dorante is a more important person than you could ever understand. He is received at court and actually speaks to the king on occasion, just as I'm speaking to you now! I am deeply honoured that such a person is a frequent visitor at my house, calls me his dear friend, and treats me as his equal. And in front of people, too! He has bestowed great and gracious favours upon me.
MADAME J In exchange for great and gracious sums of money!
M JORDAN Only loans! And it is an honour to be able to lend money to a gentleman of quality. How could I not respond to the requests of a man of such high birth, who deigns to call me his dear friend?
MADAME J Dear he certainly is! And what's in it for you, husband? What do you get in return?
M JORDAN That's none of your business.
MADAME J What did you say?
M JORDAN Enough! I'm saying no more. You'll just have to take my word that any money he has borrowed will be paid back, and sooner than you might expect.
MADAME J Don't hold your breath.
M JORDAN He has given me his word.
MADAME J Well, well! And what exactly is that worth?
M JORDAN His word as a gentleman.
MADAME J Stuff and nonsense!
M JORDAN Will you stop this? I'm telling you he will keep his word. I can guarantee it.
MADAME J And I can guarantee that he will not. You are completely taken in by his charm and his flattery.
M JORDAN Shush! Here he comes.

Scene 2

  (Enter DORANTE)
MADAME J Ha! That's all we needed, more scrounging. The very sight of him makes me feel nauseous.
M JORDAN Be quiet, woman!
DORANTE (Bowing extravagantly) My dear Monsieur Jordan, how are you today?
M JORDAN Very well, Count, and humbly at your service.
DORANTE And Madame Jordan? Is she also well?
MADAME J Madame is as well as can be expected.
DORANTE Quite so. Why, monsieur, your new suit! It's so…so suitable!
M JORDAN It's nothing, really.
DORANTE You look quite dazzling in this outfit. None of the young gallants at court could possibly compete!
M JORDAN Get away.
MADAME J (Aside) He's buttering him up, as usual.
DORANTE Turn around. Oh, my!
MADAME J (Aside) Quite! Just as ridiculous from the back as from the front!
DORANTE My dear Monsieur Jordan, I simply had to come and see you. No-one's friendship means more to me than yours, and I was saying as much only this morning in the King's bedchamber.
M JORDAN You do me too much honour, Count. (To Madame J) See! In the King's bedchamber!
DORANTE Please, monsieur, feel free to put on your hat.
M JORDAN But, Count, I feel I should show you proper respect.
DORANTE For heaven's sake, monsieur, no need to stand on ceremony!
M JORDAN But, Count…
DORANTE I insist, old man, no formality between friends.
M JORDAN Your servant, sir.
DORANTE Dammit, man, I cannot cover my head unless you do the same!
M JORDAN Very well, since you insist, even though it's bad manners. (Replaces his hat)
DORANTE I'm indebted to you. (Replaces his hat)
MADAME J (Aside) Oh, we're well aware of that already!
DORANTE You have frequently lent me money, and with much good grace.
M JORDAN Please, Count, don't mention it.
DORANTE But I know how to repay kindnesses, and to return a favour where one is due.
M JORDAN Really, Count, there's no need…
DORANTE Which is why I have come here today to settle my account with you
M JORDAN I beg your pardon?
DORANTE I've come to pay you back.
M JORDAN (Aside, to Madame J) See! I told you so!
DORANTE I always like to redeem any loan at the earliest possible opportunity.
M JORDAN (Aside, to Madame J) Isn't that exactly what I said?
DORANTE So, let's take a quick look at what I owe you.
M JORDAN You see how ridiculous all your suspicions were?
DORANTE Do you, by any chance, recall how much money you have lent me?
M JORDAN I certainly do. I have it all down here in my portable accounts ledger (He takes a notebook from inside his jacket) Now, let's see. Two hundred louis given to you on this occasion.
DORANTE Ah yes, I remember it well.
M JORDAN And on the next it was a hundred and twenty.
M JORDAN And on this next occasion a hundred and forty.
DORANTE How right you are.
M JORDAN So these three sums add up to four hundred and sixty louis, which is five thousand and sixty francs.
DORANTE Excellent adding up, if I may say so. Five thousand and sixty francs. Excellent.
M JORDAN Then, there was one thousand eight hundred and thirty two francs to the bloke who supplies the feathers to your hatter.
DORANTE Ah, indeed.
M JORDAN Two thousand seven hundred and eighty francs to your tailor.
DORANTE How very true.
M JORDAN Four thousand three hundred and seventy nine francs, twelve centimes and eight deniers to your caterer.
DORANTE Spot on. Twelve centimes and eight deniers. Mustn't forget those.
M JORDAN And one thousand seven hundred and forty eight francs, seven centimes and four deniers to your saddler.
DORANTE Well, all that seems in order. What's the total amount?
M JORDAN Fifteen thousand eight hundred francs.
DORANTE Exactly what I make it! Fifteen thousand eight hundred. And if we just add on these two hundred louis I'm borrowing today, that will make a round eighteen thousand francs, which I can let you have in a few days' time.
MADAME J (Aside to M Jordan) Now do you believe me?
M JORDAN (Aside to Madame J) Shut up!
DORANTE It's no trouble, is it, to let me have this?
M JORDAN Of course not!
MADAME J (Aside, to M Jordan) That man treats you like a milch-cow!
M JORDAN Shut up!
DORANTE If you can't manage it, I can go elsewhere.
M JORDAN No, monsieur, I wouldn't hear of it.
MADAME J (Aside to M Jordan) He'll not rest until he's bankrupted you!
M JORDAN Will you shut up, woman?
DORANTE You have only to say, if you find yourself a little short…
M JORDAN Absolutely not, monsieur, there's no problem.
MADAME J (Aside, to M Jordan) He's a real con man!
M JORDAN I said shut up!
MADAME J He'll suck you dry! To the very last centime!
M JORDAN Did I or did I not say shut up?
DORANTE There are, of course, many who would bite my arm off for the chance to lend me such a trifling sum; but, since you are my very best friend, I'm reluctant to offend you by going elsewhere.
M JORDAN You do me too great an honour, my dear Count. I shall go and fetch the cash for you myself.
MADAME J What? You're actually going to give it to him?
M JORDAN What choice do I have? A person of noble birth like that who only this morning was chatting to the king about me?
MADAME J Get out of my sight, you silly sucker!
  (Exit M Jordan)
DORANTE You don't seem your usual cheery self, Madame Jordan. Is something troubling you?
MADAME J I have a tense, nervous headache.
DORANTE Where is your charming daughter today? I haven't seen her.
MADAME J She is quite alright where she is.
DORANTE And, how is she getting along?
MADAME J By putting one foot in front of the other, like anyone else.
DORANTE Perhaps I can invite you both to accompany me to the next ballet that is to be performed for the king at court. Or perhaps a comedy?
MADAME J Oh, yes! We could do with a laugh. We certainly could.
DORANTE I can see, madame, that you must have had many admirers in your youth. I sense that you were beautiful and sweet-natured…
MADAME J Do you mind, monsieur? Am I already a decrepit old bag?
DORANTE Oh my goodness, madame, I must beg your forgiveness! I am so dozy, I did not notice how very young you are, actually. Please excuse my impertinence!
  (Enter M Jordan)
M JORDAN There we are, Two hundred louis. I counted it all out myself.
DORANTE Monsieur, how can I ever thank you? You must allow me to render you some service at court.
M JORDAN Well, that's very good of you…
DORANTE For example, if Madame should wish to attend one of the court entertainments, I could secure one of the very best seats in the house for her.
MADAME J Madame is too, too grateful.
DORANTE (Aside, to M Jordan) As I mentioned in my note, the beautiful countess will be here this evening for the supper and entertainment we have laid on. I finally managed to get her to accept your gift.
M JORDAN Er, shall we just move over here a bit?
DORANTE It took me a whole week to persuade her to accept that diamond, you know. She's a lady of great scruples. She only relented this morning.
M JORDAN Was she impressed?
DORANTE I'll say! Unless I'm very much mistaken, that diamond should do the trick. I sense that she's ready to succumb to your approach!
M JORDAN God! I hope so!
MADAME J (To Nicole) Those two are inseparable, once they get their heads together.
DORANTE I made quite sure that she appreciated both the value of the gift and the intensity of your ardour.
M JORDAN I'm a lucky man, monsieur, to have so distinguished a gentleman as yourself to intercede for me in these affairs of the heart.
DORANTE Don't be silly! Isn't that what friends are for? And wouldn't you do the same for me, if I were to ask it?
M JORDAN Oh, I most certainly would! And most willingly!
MADAME J (Aside, to Nicole) His very presence sets my teeth on edge!
DORANTE For my part, nothing is too much trouble for a friend. The minute you told me you had conceived a great passion for a beautiful countess who happens to move in my social circle, it seemed only right that I should intercede on behalf of your love.
M JORDAN You are too good to me, Count.
MADAME J (Aside, to Nicole) How much longer?
NICOLE They certainly seem to enjoy each other's company.
DORANTE I think you've hit on the right way to her heart. Women love presents! Your endless serenades and bouquets, the fabulous firework display you arranged on the river, the diamond ring you sent by me, and the lavish entertainment you have laid on for tonight's supper, all these things speak so much more eloquently of your great love for her than words ever could.
M JORDAN Money's no object, I assure you, if it wins her heart. For the honour of making love to a woman of high birth, I would give anything.
MADAME J What on earth can they be plotting together? Go and see what you can hear.
DORANTE It won't be long now before you get to feast your eyes on her considerable charms.
M JORDAN I've made sure the coast will be clear. I'm sending my wife to dine with my sister, with instructions that she should stay there for the whole evening.
DORANTE Very wise. I think your wife's presence this evening would be somewhat de trop. I've given your cook this evening's menu, and briefed everyone concerned with the entertainment. I conceived it myself, and if the performance lives up to the concept, I really believe it will be….
  (M Jordan, suddenly spotting Nicole eavesdropping, fetches her a clip round the ear)
M JORDAN Get out of here, you cheeky slut! (To Dorante) Let's take a breath of fresh air.
  (Exit M Jordan and Dorante)
NICOLE Ouch, I'm going to grow a good bruise there, for my pains! I reckon they're definitely up to something, Madame, and, whatever it is, you're not supposed to know anything about it.
MADAME J I've had my suspicions for some time, Nicole. Unless I'm very much mistaken, my husband is planning some sort of romantic adventure. I'll get to the bottom of it soon enough, but now I have more urgent matters to occupy my mind. You know that Cleonte is in love with my daughter, Lucile? Well, I think he would make an excellent husband for her, and I intend to promote his cause.
NICOLE Oh, Madame! It makes me so happy to hear you say that, for I have fallen for his valet, Covielle! If Cleonte and Lucile marry, then Covielle and I might be able to get permission to marry too! It would be so wonderful if it worked out like that!
MADAME J Go and tell Cleonte to come and see me later, so that we can approach my husband together, and get him to agree to my daughter's marriage.
  (Exit Madame J)

Scene 3

NICOLE Music to my ears, I'm off! Oh, the boys will be so thrilled at my news!
  Ah, there you are! You'll never guess what! Wonderful news…
CLEONTE Get out of my sight, you little cheat, and take your treachery with you!
NICOLE Huh? Didn't you hear what I said…?
CLEONTE Out, I said, and tell your faithless mistress that she has deceived trusting Cleonte for the last time!
NICOLE My head's spinning! Dearest Covielle, tell me, please, what does this mean?
COVIELLE Your dearest Covielle, little tramp? You can forget that! From now on, stay out of my sight and leave me in peace!
NICOLE What? You too….?
COVIELLE Out of my sight, I said, and never speak to me again!
NICOLE (Aside) Well! Something's got up their noses alright! I'd better go and let my mademoiselle know what's going on.
  (Exit Nicole)
CLEONTE How could she? To treat a lover like that! And what a lover! The most faithful and passionate that ever lived!
COVIELLE It's a disgrace the way we've both been treated, and no mistake.
CLEONTE No-one could have shown a person more passion and tenderness than I've shown her. I've thought only of her, dreamt only of her, spoken only of her. Every breath I take, every move I make, my heart beats only for her. And what do I get for all this selfless devotion? After two endless days of separation, I bump into her in the street. My heart leaps! My little face lights up! In rapture, I fly to her arms, and what happens? The treacherous cow walks straight past me as though she'd never set eyes on me in her life! How do you like that?
CLEONTE Did you ever come across such perfidy as that shown to me by Lucile?
COVIELLE Or such…as that…Nicole…showed to me?
CLEONTE After all the passionate sacrifices, the sighs and the vows of undying love!
COVIELLE After all the sighs as I helped her with the kitchen chores!
CLEONTE All the tears I've shed, with which to wash her feet!
COVIELLE All the buckets… of water I've drawn from the well for her!
CLEONTE How I've burned to prove that I love her more than myself!
COVIELLE How I've burned…my hand as I helped her turn the spit over the fire!
CLEONTE She just walks away from me!
COVIELLE She just turns her back on me!
CLEONTE It's grounds for some serious retribution!
COVIELLE It's grounds for some serious slapping about!
CLEONTE Never mention that girl's name to me again!
COVIELLE Me? Wouldn't dream of it!
CLEONTE Don't come to me trying to excuse her actions.
COVIELLE I certainly shan't.
CLEONTE No, I tell you! You're wasting your breath defending her.
COVIELLE Who's defending her?
CLEONTE I intend to stay mad at her, and I shall break off all relations.
COVIELLE Quite right.
CLEONTE Maybe it's that Count who visits this house from time to time? Has he made a play for her, I wonder? Has she allowed herself to be dazzled by his title? I must protect my honour, and dump her before she dumps me.
COVIELLE Well said! I think I'll do the same.
CLEONTE You must help me to banish any lingering sentiments of love that I may feel for her. List for me, I beg you, as many bad things about her that occur to you. Paint me a hideous portrait of the creature, and point out as many disgusting features as you can, so that I no longer feel any love for her.
COVIELLE Lucile? Well, she's a right little madam, for a start, giving herself airs and graces! I always thought she was dead mediocre, and that you could do a lot better for yourself, to be honest. For a start, she's got little piggy eyes!
CLEONTE It's true, her eyes are small. But they're the most sparkling, fiery, piercing, melting sort of eyes you've ever seen.
COVIELLE She's got a huge mouth.
CLEONTE Yes, but it is the most beautiful, the most desirable, the most attractive, the most sexy mouth in the whole world.
COVIELLE She's a bit short.
CLEONTE But graceful with it.
COVIELLE She's a bit sloppy in the way she speaks, and the way she acts…
CLEONTE True. But she is very stylish, and has such absolutely charming manners that she can melt any heart effortlessly.
COVIELLE As for her wit…
CLEONTE Ah, Covielle, she has it in spades, and so subtle!
COVIELLE Her conversation is…
CLEONTE Totally charming!
COVIELLE And she's always so serious.
CLEONTE Yes, and thank God for that! Who wants to be around a constant cheesy grin? Anyway, I always suspect a woman who laughs a lot of taking the piss.
COVIELLE Then there's the fact that she changes her mind every five minutes, and about everything.
CLEONTE It's true. But then that's the prerogative of a beautiful woman.
COVIELLE I give up. You're doomed to be in love with her forever.
CLEONTE Me? I'd rather die! I intend to hate her until my dying day.
COVIELLE How will you achieve that, since you appear to find her perfect?
CLEONTE Ah, well that's the point, Covielle. Since I can hate her even though she is so sweet, so beautiful, so perfect, then how much more powerful is my hatred than if it were directed against a dreary dog? Huh? Here she comes.
  (Enter LUCILE and Nicole)
NICOLE I tell you, I was shocked.
LUCILE It can only have been due to the incident I told you about, Nicole. Look, there he is.
CLEONTE I refuse to speak to her.
LUCILE What's the matter, Cleonte?
NICOLE What is it, Covielle?
LUCILE What's got you in such a huff?
NICOLE What's made you so grumpy?
LUCILE Are you struck dumb, by any chance?
NICOLE Cat got your tongue, has it?
CLEONTE Shameless hussy!
LUCILE As I thought, you were upset by our encounter earlier today.
CLEONTE So! At least she admits it!
COVIELLE Prepared to own up, are we?
LUCILE I'm right, aren't I Cleonte? That's what's bothering you.
CLEONTE Yes, traitor, since it seems I must speak! But don't think you can just walk in here and dump me, because I intend to do it to you before you do it to me. Of course, I shall suffer indescribable pain getting over you. Denying my great love for you is not going to be easy, but I shall not suffer for too long. I'll get over it eventually, and I'd rather nurse a broken heart than a debased honour.
LUCILE What a lot of fuss about nothing1 I came here, Cleonte, to explain why I had to give you the brush-off this morning.
CLEONTE No! I don't want to hear.
LUCILE I'm going to tell you what made us pass you by so quickly…
CLEONTE I refuse to listen!
LUCILE You should know that, this morning….
CLEONTE No, I say!
NICOLE Let me tell you….
COVIELLE No, you lying slut!
LUCILE Listen!
CLEONTE Certainly not.
NICOLE Let me speak!
COVIELLE I am deaf.
LUCILE Cleonte!
NICOLE Covielle!
COVIELLE Forget it.
LUCILE Hold on.
CLEONTE Fiddlesticks!
NICOLE Listen.
LUCILE Wait a minute
CLEONTE Certainly not.
NICOLE Have patience.
LUCILE Just two ticks
CLEONTE No. It's over.
NICOLE One word, please.
COVIELLE We're through.
LUCILE Very well. Since you won't listen. Believe what you like, and do as you please.
NICOLE Fair enough, if that's the way you want to play it.
CLEONTE Come on then. Tell us why we got such a cool reception.
LUCILE I no longer feel like explaining it.
COVIELLE Alright, then. What's the story?
NICOLE Too late, I'm afraid. I don't fancy telling you.
CLEONTE Tell me…
LUCILE No! My lips are sealed.
COVIELLE Say something…
NICOLE No! I'm saying nothing.
LUCILE Absolutely not.
COVIELLE Have a heart!
NICOLE No way.
CLEONTE I implore you.
LUCILE Leave me alone.
COVIELLE I beg you.
NICOLE Get away.
CLEONTE In heaven's name!
LUCILE I refuse.
COVIELLE Speak to me.
NICOLE I will not.
CLEONTE Set my mind at rest.
LUCILE No. I don't want to.
COVIELLE Don't you want to cheer me up?
NICOLE Certainly not.
CLEONTE Fine! You clearly care nothing for my emotional well-being, and you actually believe that you were justified in trampling all over my feelings as you did. So, I'll be off. You will never see me again. I intend to take myself off to die in a ditch, in an agony of wounded love!
LUCILE Cleonte!
NICOLE Covielle
LUCILE Where are you going?
CLEONTE Where I just said.
COVIELLE We're going to die. In a ditch.
LUCILE You're going to die, Cleonte?
CLEONTE Yes, you heartless creature! Since that's what you want.
LUCILE I want you to die?
LUCILE Who says so?
CLEONTE You do. By refusing to allay my suspicions.
LUCILE Is it my fault you refused to listen to me? Had you done so, you would have learned that this morning's incident was caused by the presence of an old aunt who is convinced that if a man so much as looks at a girl she is dishonoured for life. Since she goes on at me endlessly to this effect, I generally comply with her wishes whenever I'm out with her.
NICOLE So there!
CLEONTE Are you telling me the truth, Lucile?
COVIELLE You're not having me on?
LUCILE Cross my heart.
NICOLE And hope to die.
COVIELLE Are we going along with this?
CLEONTE Oh, Lucile! One word from your adorable mouth and I'm putty in your hands!
COVIELLE How easily they twist us around their little fingers!

Scene 4

  (Enter Madame Jordan)
MADAME J Ah, Cleonte, just the man I wanted to see. My husband is on his way here. Now is your chance to ask him for Lucile's hand in marriage.
CLEONTE Madame, your words are music to my ears! I never received a more delightful order, nor responded with more pleasure!
  (Enter M Jordan)
  Monsieur, I have come here to put to you in person a matter which has occupied my mind for some considerable time. Not to beat about the bush, indeed to come out with it straight, I beg you to allow me the glorious honour of becoming your son-in-law.
M JORDAN Before I give you my answer, Monsieur, I need to know whether you are a gentleman by birth.
CLEONTE Sir, most men would answer yes without hesitation. The title 'gentleman' is nowadays adopted quite casually by all and sundry. For my part, I am somewhat scrupulous about such things, and I consider it unworthy, indeed cowardly, of an honest man to give himself airs and graces, and to pass himself off as something which he is not. As it happens, my credentials are good. My parents held quite important posts, I myself was an army officer for six years, and my income enables me to maintain a fine position in society. However, I will not assume a false title simply for the sake of appearances, and so I must tell you, monsieur, that I was not born a gentleman.
M JORDAN Put it there, Monsieur! (They shake hands heartily) You shall not have my daughter.
M JORDAN You're not a gentleman. My daughter is not for you.
MADAME J What is all this 'gentleman' business? Anyone would think you and I were descended from royalty!
M JORDAN Be quiet, wife, I already know where you're coming from.
MADAME J We both come from an honest trade background.
M JORDAN See? I knew it.
MADAME J Your father was a shopkeeper, just as mine was.
M JORDAN Devil take the woman! She never gives up! If your father was a shopkeeper, that was his tough luck. Mine was no such thing, and those who say he was are misinformed. For myself, I will have a son-in-law of noble birth.
MADAME J Your daughter needs a decent husband. Far better for her to marry an honest bourgeois with money and looks, than some chinless, inbred aristocrat!
NICOLE Oooh yes! In my village, the lord of the manor's son is the most cretinous idiot I've ever clapped eyes on.
M JORDAN Quiet, you cheeky wench! Keep out of this. My daughter can expect a very handsome dowry on her marriage, if I can just get her a title. I hope to make her a countess.
MADAME J A countess?
M JORDAN Yes, a countess.
MADAME J Oh, please! God help us all!
M JORDAN I am absolutely determined on it.
MADAME J And I am absolutely against it. Anyone who marries above themselves is just asking for a life of aggravation. I don't want a son-in-law who is embarrassed by his wife's parents, nor grandchildren who are ashamed to call me 'grandma'. I don't want my daughter visiting me in her grand carriage, surrounded by liveried flunkeys and snubbing the neighbours. Next thing, I'd have to put up with all their tittle-tattle - 'See that snooty countess?' they'd say, 'that's Jordan's daughter, who was quite happy to play with the neighbourhood children once, but is now too high and mighty. And both her grandfathers were cloth traders in St Innocent's market. The amount of wealth they managed to leave to their children - well, you don't come by all that just by honest trading, do you?' No, thank you! I can do without all of that. I want a man who is grateful for having married my daughter, and whom I may welcome to my table, saying 'sit you down, son, and join the family meal'.
M JORDAN Typical lack of vision, from one who clings to the lowest rung of the social ladder! I will not put up with any more of this answering back! My daughter will be a countess, and if I hear any more from any of you, I'll make her a bloody duchess!
  (Exit M Jordan)
MADAME J Cleonte, don't despair. Lucile, come with me. You are going to tell your father that if you can't have this man, you will have no-one.
  (Exeunt Madame J, Lucile and Nicole)
COVIELLE Well. Fat lot of good that did you - sticking to your principles!
CLEONTE I had no choice. A man's got to follow his conscience.
COVIELLE What's the point, if you're dealing with someone who's barking mad? Couldn't you have gone along with his fantasies about noble birth?
CLEONTE I suppose I could have. But it never occurred to me that I had to provide proof of nobility in order to become Monsieur Jordan's son-in-law. (Covielle laughs) What are you laughing at?
COVIELLE I've just had an idea! We can take the old boy for a ride, and get you what you want at the same time.
COVIELLE Remember that group of carnival players I saw performing yesterday? I reckon I could get them to set up a practical joke for us. It would be right up their street. They've certainly got all the actors, costumes and props we'd need, and I think our man can be relied upon to play his part to perfection, so long as we feed him the right cues!
CLEONTE Tell me…
COVIELLE Shush, here he comes. Come on, I'll explain everything.
  (Exeunt Cleonte and Covielle. Enter M Jordan)
M JORDAN Dammit, what's so wrong with wanting to spend time with the nobility? How else would I be able to acquire any social graces, except by picking them up from such people? God, I'd give my right arm to have been born a count or a marquis!
  (Enter 2nd Page)
2ND PAGE Sir, Count Dorante is here. And there's a lady with him. They're holding hands.
M JORDAN Oh my God! Everything's not quite ready! Tell them I'll be right back!
  (Exit M Jordan)

Scene 5

  Enter Dorante and Dorimene)
2ND PAGE As Monsieur says - he'll be right back.
DORANTE Excellent.
  (Exit 2nd Page)
DORIMENE I'm not at all sure about this, Dorante. It doesn't feel right, letting you bring me to an assignation at a stranger's house.
DORANTE Where else can I woo you in private, madame, since you insist that neither your house nor mine is sufficiently secluded to guarantee your immunity from scandalous exposure?
DORIMENE What's more, each day that you shower me with lavish gifts, I feel that I'm slipping further under your spell. My resistance weakens in the face of your charm offensive, and I find you have a way of persuading me to agree to your every desire. You have worn me down, first with your persistent visits, then with your declarations of love, the serenades, the gifts…I resisted, but you refused to take no for an answer, and gradually I have felt myself succumbing. Sooner or later, I know, I shall give up the unequal struggle and simply accept your inevitable offer of marriage.
DORANTE Ah, beautiful madame, what's to stop us? You are a widow of independent means; I am my own man and I love you more than my own life. What do you say? Accept my proposal of marriage today!
DORIMENE Really, Dorante, it takes a lot of effort on both sides to make a happy marriage. Even the two most reasonable people in the world must encounter many problems in the search for a perfect union, you know.
DORANTE Do not tease me, madame, by placing obstacles in the way of our love. You should not assume that, because your last experience was less than satisfactory, you cannot find happiness with another.
DORIMENE Above all, I keep coming back to this. I'm not comfortable with the extravagant gifts you lavish upon me. First, because they commit me further than I wish to be committed; and, second, because, with all due respect, I do not believe you can afford such expenditure.
DORANTE Nothing but trinkets, madame, do not concern yourself with….
DORIMENE I mean it! I mean, look at this diamond you gave me. It must have cost over…
DORANTE Please, madame! Do not place a material value on something as priceless as my love for you. Only let me…here is the owner of the premises…
  (Enter M Jordan. He makes two extravagant bows to Dorimene, then finds himself too close to her)
M JORDAN Stand back, please, madame.
M JORDAN One step backwards, please.
DORIMENE I beg your pardon?
M JORDAN For the third bow, to enable me to get my nose level with your knees….
DORANTE Madame, Monsieur Jordan really knows the ropes, when it comes to etiquette…
M JORDAN Madame, it is a great privilege for me to be so fortunate as to have been made so very happy to find that you bestow so great an honour as to grant me the most prestigious favour of your presence in my humble abode; and if only I merited the great merit of a merit such as yours, and if heaven…envious of my great good fortune…had only afforded me…the great advantage….of having been worthy of…of…
DORANTE Come now, Jordan, enough. Madame will be embarrassed by all this fuss. She already knows you are a wit and a renowned man about town. (Aside, to Dorimene) Sorry about this. The words 'bourgeois' 'out of' and 'depth' spring to mind!
DORIMENE I'll say!
DORANTE Madame, may I present my best friend in the whole world.
M JORDAN You do me too much honour.
DORANTE A man of style, as you can see.
DORIMENE Indeed, I can already appreciate that.
M JORDAN I have yet to be given the opportunity of proving it to you, madame.
DORANTE (Aside, to M Jordan) Whatever you do, don't mention the diamond you gave her.
M JORDAN (Aside to Dorante) Couldn't I just ask her whether she liked it?
DORANTE Out of the question, old boy! Very vulgar, and she would be deeply offended. The done thing is to deny that it was even you who gave it to her. (out loud, to Dorimene) Madame, M Jordan tells me he is delighted to welcome you to his house.
DORIMENE I am honoured to be here.
M JORDAN (Aside, to Dorante) Thank you so much for interceding with her on my behalf!
DORANTE (Aside, to M Jordan) Think nothing of it, old boy, although I must confess, I had the devil's own job persuading her to come tonight.
M JORDAN (Aside, to Dorante) I don't know how to repay you
DORANTE He says, madame, that he thinks you are the most beautiful woman in the world.
DORIMENE Monsieur, I am flattered,
M JORDAN Oh no, madame, it is I who am flattered that so gracious a lady as yourself should deign to bestow on me...
DORANTE Perhaps we should think about eating ?
  (M Jordan claps his hands. Enter the 1st Page)
1ST PAGE Everything is prepared, monsieur.
DORANTE So, why don't we sit down, and let them bring on the food and the music!
  (M Jordan, Dorimene and Dorante sit down. The cooks bring on the table and food, dancing as they serve it.)
  END OF ACT TWO - Main Interval

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