The Village Coquette by Charles Riviere Dufresny


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Page 1


ACT I


Girard (holding two letters and reading them)
From Paris. To Monsieur Le Baron of Hamlet. Let's take care of this
letter for him. He's not at home. (putting the Baron's letter in his
pocket, he opens the other letter) And the other's for me, Girard. I
dare to hope that the list of winning lottery numbers is in this
letter. Right, my cousin, the master printer in Paris, favors the role
I've taken. Love is my guide in this roguery. With this false lottery
list I am going to obtain Lucas' daughter as my wife.

Widow (entering)
I am waiting for Mr. Argon. Why hasn't he come?

Girard (reading the letter)
From Paris. "My dear cousin, before having distributed the list of
lottery winners, I've sent you a false list, as you asked me to do, so
you can have a big joke in your village. You can make your rival
believe that Farmer Lucas won the grand prize of one hundred thousand
francs." With this, I hope to obtain my Lisette. Lucas, believing his
fortune made, will cede me his lease on the farm. He's the type to be
caught in such a snare. At bottom, it's for his own good. By making me
his son-in-law, he can't lose. (to Widow) But, why are you standing
around dreaming?

Widow
Because Mr. Argon is supposed to come find me.

Girard
He'll be here soon. He's still in the chateau.

Widow
I'm getting impatient.

Girard
What for? You're not excited by a tender love. It's an old lover, and
you should wait without impatience, coldly.

Widow
Shut up, Girard. Shut up. You know how I value him.

Girard
To believe an old man is an old grey beard is no big crime. I honor
him more, being his collector. The collection is small and for you,
with all my heart, I wish I could pay him a one hundred thousand francs
of income.

Widow
That would be too much for me, a former maid. That's what I was when I
was in Paris. But here I have a higher rank which I obtained from my
late husband, a head magistrate. Thus, I've been ennobled in this
village, a fine nobility at bottom and which is worth a good bit, a
nobility that one can take to Paris.

Girard
Let's renew our discussion and talk of Lisette again. Because, having
so much power over her, being her neighbor, and a sort of surrogate
parent, you are working hard to turn her into a coquette, instead of
making her wiser.

Widow
Language of Paris. That's what will make her perfect.

Girard
Some perfection! Alas, you make her worse, when you come here to
refine her wit. You make her heart more false and more vain.

Widow
At nine years, she was already a coquette in embryo. I have only
pointed her in her natural direction--so her beauty will not prove
worthless and she will profit by a fine marriage. I only want Lisette
to be wise. She's naturally exquisite, and I've simply added to her
talents all that I have learned.

Girard
With so many perfections you will make her a prodigy of coquetry.

Widow
So much the better, I tell you. That's what makes beauty and wit
valued. We've argued about this so many times. By coquette I mean a
girl who is very wise; who knows how to take advantage of other's
foibles; who always exhibits sangfroid in the midst of dangers. One
who profits from opportunity which she knows how to manage and uses
her reason when we lose ours. A wise coquette is more knowing than
anyone else because she is always exposed and always in a battle. One
cannot deny that the strongest virtue is one that undergoes and survives
the hardest tests. The coquette has prerogatives much more beautiful than
a prude's. That beautiful right is the right of being happy. A prude,
in her life, marries, but once or twice, but the clever coquette never
marries at all. She flatters, she raises hopes, she promises, but she
never gives in--thus through her wisdom leaving each one to his love
and desires, she makes pleasure last.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Thu 27th Jun 2019, 8:22