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The Cats, by François-Augustin de Moncrif

The Cats by François-Augustin de Moncrif - A TRAGEDY.

A TRAGEDY.


Illustration: The Tragedy

CAST

GRISETTE - Madame Deshouillieres' she-cat, in love with Cochon.
MIMY - Madame Deshouillieres' tomcat, in love with Grisette.
MARMUSE - Madame Deshouillieres' He-cat, Mimy's Confidante.
CAFAR, Cat belonging to Minimes of Chaillot, Deputy of the Village Cats.
LOVE
A Troupe of Neighbourhood Cats.

The Scene is a house in Paris, the home of Madame Deshouillieres. The Theatre opens, and represents a flat terrace level with the guttering.

SCENE I

MIMY, MARMUSE, Chorus of Neighbourhood Cats.

MIMY.

I can no longer suffer the rigours that Grisette
Imposes on me, nor the torment.
She mistreats me, preferring Cochon, you know. The ingrate!
Heavens, what a disturbance
That a cat should choose a dog for her sweetheart.
Can you believe it my dear Marmuse,
Can you imagine my excessive hurt
That for a year – no for two -
An ugly dog has that heart which was to me refused!

MARMUSE.

Mimy, I can feel your desperation,
I can barely express my sensitivities,
My awful feelings against that heartless beauty;
And besides I am your loyal companion,
Believe me when I say forget that cat
Give up on her who's so indelicate,
That she favours a Dog above the most perfect tomcats.

MIMY.

I cannot stop worshipping her allures;
But today I'll finally explode with with vengeance.
Please do not abandon me, Marmuse
Come help me punish an ungrateful mistress.

MARMUSE.

Nothing is more sacred than to serve a friend,
Let's go, Mimy, I offer you my willing hand,
And I wait gladly for your command.

SCENE II.

MIMY, MARMUSE, CAFAR, Chorus of Neighbourhood Cats.

CAFAR.

Listen handsome tomcats, great news has come,
Cochon has just lost the day.
To a cruel and frightful rage -
Grisette is robbed of the object of her Love.

MARMUSE.

The heart of Grisette
Is for rent today.
With this Coquette
Who wants to play?
But I'm thinking that
As an important Cat,
I will do nothing,
That could make others
Say my heart aspires
To a dog's leftovers.

MIMY.

What favorable hand has washed away
Our insult in this cursed dog's blood?
Cafar, tell us the story if you would
Of the agreeable events of this day.

MARMUSE.

Do not imitate the triumphant style
Of those mortals who as beautiful minds are known.
Their talk could make an elephant out of a fly,
And we could travel from Paris to Rome,
Before they could express the sorrow of a child
From whom an apple was stolen.

CAFAR.

I do not care to be so dull of silly.
It happened in Chaillot, a nearby village,
A fruitful, pleasant place and populous beside.

MARMUSE.

Just as I said – we'll be in danger of dozing off
Before you even get to Cochon's death,
It would take less time to turn you into a muff
You glorious windbag with your boring eloquence.

CAFAR, to Mimy.

You fool, is all this really necessary?

MIMY.

Do not be diverted at his fits of rage.

CAFAR.

For a while, as we must surely be aware,
Chaillot has been the usual residence
Of a Marshal brave as long-dead Caesar,
As wise as Cato, and as learned as Homer.

MARMUSE.

Please stop there, my friend Cafar,
It's not your place to reciting eulogies,
We all know this Marshal,
Know what he can do, know of his deeds,
And we love him, with the faith of animals.

CAFAR, to Mimy.

Don't you want to shut him up, Mimy?
Silence the rascally little tomcat?

MIMY, to Marmuse.

Shh! Marmuse, listen, even if it's just to please me.

MARMUSE.

Then I will tell it all, if you'll permit.

CAFAR.

His Master's favours made Cochon full of pride,
The wrath of the other dogs knew no bounds:
It it too much, they said, we'll get revenge for all the hounds;
Who do not want this traitor by our side.
At that moment rage offered herself to them:
If one of you will take me in today.
Without it being perceived in any way,
To the prideful one I'll deal punishment.
Citron, with no thought and no delay,
Opened up his soul to cruel rage.
First this nimble dog was seen
Running wildly throughout the Village,
Then he seized Cochon in an ugly scene,
And right away he did him in.

MIMY.

Our fortunes have now become favourable.
That dog, that formidable rival,
Who made us neglect our tender interest,
Fate has stopped him in a manner irrevocable.
But perhaps the love-pangs that we found unbearable
Will not be comforted in completeness.
Grisette will mourn her vanished pleasures strange
When we love, is it an advantage,
To see the proud object to whom we pay homage,
Have her lovely eyes ever full of sorrow's pain?

CAT CHORUS.

Miaou, miaou, we are avenged.

MARMUSE, to Mimy.

Instead of spreading pretty words,
We'd better go to the house with careful tread
To steal some soles, or from what I've heard,
Some capons, well fattened from the diet fed,
That I know we've not yet eaten yet.

MIMY.

Marmuse, another thought is worrying my mind.

MARMUSE.

Like the hero of a romantic novel, will you find,
That maybe you are being duped, my friend?

CAT CHORUS.

Miaou, miaou, we are avenged.

SCENE III.

GRISETTE, MIMY, MARMUSE, CAFAR, Chorus of Neighbourhood Cats.

GRISETTE.

Cruel tomcats, what's this you say of me?
Do you think I'm insulted or outraged?

CAT CHORUS.

Meow, meow, we are avenged.

GRISETTE.

If my cruel troubles are not enough for thee
My just despair will end my woe I fear.
Meow, meow, flow, flow my tears.
Despite the natural hostility,
That Heaven imprints in our hearts at our birth,
Cochon disarmed my austerity,
For him I lost for my reputation for harshness.
Miaou, meow, flow, flow my tears.

MARMUSE.

Grisette, blush for your foolish grief.

CAT CHORUS.

Grisette, blush for your foolish grief.

GRISETTE.

No, it is not enough to simply cry
My lover's death demands my own.
Let's die for my illustrious Cochon:
To the wandering spirits of lovers I will be a sacrifice.
No, it is not enough to to simply cry
My lover's death demands my own.

MIMY.

So, unkind, barbaric queen it's not enough
That you betray your duty.
But through a passion strange enough,
Just as your rival's death rekindles hope in me,
I must now be forced to see
You prepare more pain to punish me for my love.
Fear that paw.... ah! my reason strays, enough!
I'm shivering..... I die....

MARMUSE, to Mimy.

Good night.

MARMUSE, to Grisette.

He's a devil when something raises his ire,
Do not expose yourself to his flaming wrath.
When he invites you to satisfy his inner fire.
But Cochon had no other qualities
Than to by both a hero and by Grisette be adored.

GRISETTE.

That hero's choice was author of my fatal weakness.
And for my lover by his own pain he's sorely pressed.
My dear Cochon, the most handsome of all dogs.
Miaou, miaou.

MARMUSE.

Such a plague of miaous.
Oh you beauty so capricious,
Be a little less precious.
Ridicule follows closely on the heels of fashion,
That collection of wonders,
This Cochon, your beloved,
His tail was docked, as too were his ears.
He was, 'tis said, saved from the Marseilles sewer,
Named "Pig" for his appearance,
So much did he that filthy beast resemble.
Breathed from his mouth a fearful smell,
Which could be smelled a hundred paces all around.
A disteller's discerning eye was all that's left.
Apart from that he was the handsomest dog in the world.

GRISETTE, CAT CHORUS.

Grisette: No, Cochon was made to inflame my heart, }
Chorus: No, Cochon was made to injure the heart.     }

MARMUSE.

Throughout the course of his whole life,
There was no day, without exception,
That he did not harbour the sincere desire
To always devour someone.
Capons, partridge, down his deep gullet he hurled,
Without him bothering to chew them.
No caress or benefactions moved him.
Apart from that he was the handsomest dog in the world.

GRISETTE.

Why do you dare deliver such blows to my heart?
Ah! what horrors, and what blasphemy!
Slanderous tomcats, fear me,
Fear my extreme fury,
Tremble and shake before me.
You, divine Venus, from whom I am descended,
Come here to defend my rights
Give me tenderness and take revenge divine -
Punish these roof dwellers
For their brutal insolence,
For they offend a gentle child of thine.

MARMUSE.

We don't fear the Goddess's revenge.
In Egypt on the Nile's banks she dwelt,
And took a tomcat for her husband then.
So with the Goddess we're acquainted well,
Stop invoking the lovely Goddess,
Grisette, return to your own species,
Your destiny will be much sweeter.

CAT CHORUS.

Grisette, return to your own species,
Your destiny will be much sweeter.

GRISETTE.

It's for Cochon alone that I have tenderness,
Though you might have a thousand times more envy,
It's still for him alone that I have interest.

CAT CHORUS.

Grisette, return to your own species,
Your destiny will be much sweeter.

MARMUSE.

Minuet.

You need not be mad nor a fool,
To love a paramour who's dead and gone.
Humans all are in accord,
And we learn also at their school
That the absentee is always wrong.

MIMY.

She's already gone, ungrateful wretch,
She has fled my burning flame.
Cruel kitty, stop! I call your name -
Grisette, Grisette, Grisette.

CAT CHORUS.

Grisette, Grisette, Grisette.
Stop, stop, cruel Cat, Grisette!

SCENE IV.

LOVE, MIMY, MARMUSE, CAFAR and CAT CHORUS.

LOVE
(sitting astride the guttering)

Tender tomcat, let her go,
Your misfortune in a while will end.
I swear by my bow, and by my mother Goddess.
That constancy is just a pipe-dream,
And Grisette will weary soon enough of grieving.

CAT CHORUS.

Love, please believe us, by God we'll be avenged.

THE END

 

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