- Very soon after my arrival there - I...

The Liar


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  • Very soon after my arrival there
  • I met Orphise. Her charms, beyond compare,
  • Would have subdued a heart of flint. Her gaze
  • Transfixed me with its bright, soul-searching rays.
  • I sought an introduction: the reward
  • For my attentions was her kind regard;
  • Within six months she had returned my love
  • With secret favors… nothing to reprove
  • Until at last I had obtained the right
  • To climb into her bedroom, late at night…
  • Just for a chat. One night -- I can remember
  • The date -- it was the second of November --
  • (It was the night that I was caught, you see)
  • Her father had been dining out, and we
  • Heard him come up the stairs, and stop, and knock
  • On the bedroom door. Orphise got quite a shock!
  • She froze, then blenched, then blushed, then used her head --
  • She drew the curtains round me in the bed
  • And let him in. She seemed to have a plan:
  • She hugged him -- almost choked the poor old man --
  • So that it wouldn’t look as though he’d caught her
  • Off guard. He took a seat, and told his daughter
  • He’d just received a very handsome offer
  • For her hand! Picture what I had to suffer.
  • She managed to respond so cleverly
  • As to please him, without alarming me.
  • At length they finished this distressing chat --
  • But just as he was going out -- guess what?
  • My watch began to strike! He dropped the latch,
  • And said: “I didn’t know you had a watch.
  • Who gave it you?” “Cousin Acaste,” she stalled,
  • “Just brought it round -- he wants it overhauled.
  • It seems to go off every other minute.
  • His quarter’s got no decent jewelers in it.”
  • “Give it to me. That’s easily corrected,”
  • He said. Orphise came over to collect it --
  • I passed it through the curtain, but in vain --
  • My pistol got entangled with the chain,
  • Which pulled the trigger and discharged a shot.
  • Disaster! Orphise fainted on the spot.
  • Her father hurled himself onto the floor,
  • And shouted “Assassins!” and “Au secours!”
  • His son and several servants blocked my path,
  • But I was practically insane with wrath:
  • I drew my sword, and tried to force my way
  • Between them, but, in the ensuing fray,
  • My rapier snapped, which forced me to give ground.
  • Meanwhile, Orphise was starting to come round:
  • Recent events had clearly stunned her, but
  • She was sufficiently alert to shut
  • The bedroom door, with only her and me
  • Inside. We both began, spontaneously,
  • To pile up boxes, tables, chairs and beds,
  • In a huge barricade; we’d lost our heads --
  • As if our puny efforts could achieve
  • Anything better than a brief reprieve!
  • They smashed a hole and entered through the wall --
  • I saw the game was up, and had to call
  • Our struggle to a halt.

Corneille, Pierre. Two Plays: The Liar, The Illusion. trans. Ranjit Bolt. Absolute Classics, Bath, England. 1989. pp. 30-31.

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