"Au Revoir." A Dramatic Vignette.

A poem by Henry Austin Dobson

SCENE.--The Fountain in the Garden of the Luxembourg. It is surrounded by Promenaders.

MONSIEUR JOLICOEUR.
A LADY (unknown).


M. JOLICOEUR.
'Tis she, no doubt. Brunette,--and tall:
A charming figure, above all!
This promises.--Ahem!

THE LADY.
Monsieur?
Ah! it is three. Then Monsieur's name
Is JOLICOEUR?...

M. JOLICOEUR.
Madame, the same.

THE LADY.
And Monsieur's goodness has to say?...
Your note?...

M. JOLICOEUR.
Your note.

THE LADY.
Forgive me.--Nay.
(Reads)
"If Madame [I omit] will be
Beside the Fountain-rail at Three,
Then Madame--possibly--may hear
News of her Spaniel. JOLICOEUR."
Monsieur denies his note?

M. JOLICOEUR.
I do.
Now let me read the one from you.
"If Monsieur Jolicoeur will be
Beside the Fountain-rail at Three,
Then Monsieur--possibly--may meet
An old Acquaintance. 'INDISCREET.'"

THE LADY (scandalized).
Ah, what a folly! 'Tis not true.
I never met Monsieur. And you?

M. JOLICOEUR (with gallantry).
Have lived in vain till now. But see:
We are observed.

THE LADY. (looking round).
I comprehend....
(After a pause.)
Monsieur, malicious brains combine
For your discomfiture, and mine.
Let us defeat that ill design.
If Monsieur but ... (hesitating).

M. JOLICOEUR (bowing).
Rely on me.

THE LADY (still hesitating).
Monsieur, I know, will understand ...

M. JOLICOEUR.
Madame, I wait but your command.

THE LADY.
You are too good. Then condescend
At once to be a new-found Friend!

M. JOLICOEUR (entering upon the part forthwith).
How? I am charmed,--enchanted. Ah!
What ages since we met ... at Spa?

THE LADY (a little disconcerted).
At Ems, I think. Monsieur, maybe,
Will recollect the Orangery?

M. JOLICOEUR.
At Ems, of course. But Madame's face
Might make one well forget a place.

THE LADY.
It seems so. Still, Monsieur recalls
The Kürhaus, and the concert-balls?

M. JOLICOEUR.
Assuredly. Though there again
'Tis Madame's image I retain.

THE LADY.
Monsieur is skilled in ... repartee.
(How do they take it?--Can you see?)

M. JOLICOEUR.
Nay,--Madame furnishes the wit.
(They don't know what to make of it!)

THE LADY.
And Monsieur's friend who sometimes came?...
That clever ... I forget the name.

M. JOLICOEUR.
The BARON?... It escapes me, too.
'Twas doubtless he that Madame knew?

THE LADY (archly).
Precisely. But, my carriage waits.
Monsieur will see me to the gates?

M. JOLICOEUR (offering his arm).
I shall be charmed. (Your stratagem
Bids fair, I think, to conquer them.)
(Aside)
(Who is she? I must find that out.)
--And Madame's husband thrives, no doubt?

THE LADY (off her guard).
Monsieur de BEAU--?... He died at Dôle!

M. JOLICOEUR.
Truly. How sad!
(Aside)
(Yet, on the whole,
How fortunate! BEAU-pré?--BEAU-vau?
Which can it be? Ah, there they go!)
--Madame, your enemies retreat
With all the honours of ... defeat.

THE LADY.
Thanks to Monsieur. Monsieur has shown
A skill PRÉVILLE could not disown.

M. JOLICOEUR.
You flatter me. We need no skill
To act so nearly what we will.
Nay,--what may come to pass, if Fate
And Madame bid me cultivate ...

THE LADY (anticipating).
Alas!--no farther than the gate.
Monsieur, besides, is too polite
To profit by a jest so slight.

M. JOLICOEUR.
Distinctly. Still, I did but glance
At possibilities ... of Chance.

THE LADY.
Which must not serve Monsieur, I fear,
Beyond the little grating here.

M. JOLICOEUR (aside).
(She's perfect. One may push too far,
Piano, sano.)
(They reach the gates.)
Here we are.
Permit me, then ...
(Placing her in the carriage.)
And Madame goes?...
Your coachman?... Can I?...

THE LADY (smiling).
Thanks! he knows.
Thanks! Thanks!

M. JOLICOEUR (insidiously).
And shall we not renew
Our ... "Ems acquaintanceship?"

THE LADY (still smiling).
Adieu!
My thanks instead!

M. JOLICOEUR (with pathos).
It is too hard!
(Laying his hand on the grating.)
To find one's Paradise is barred!!

THE LADY.
Nay.--"Virtue is her own Reward!"
[Exit.

M. JOLICOEUR (solus).
BEAU-vau?--BEAU-vallon?--BEAU-manoir?--
But that's a detail!
(Waving his hand after the carriage.)
AU REVOIR!

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