Council Chamber in the Palace. Don Diego and Nobles discovered in council, seated round a table. For amateur purposes, this scene may be the same as Scene I, with the curtains, as in that scene, for Ruy Blas to enter through. Of course it requires some little effort of imagination to suppose it likely that the Privy Council of a great kingdom would sit in what was once Don Sallust's private room, but you can explain that the real Council Chamber is being whitewashed, or that this is the day for the sweeps, which will account for everything.
Don Diego. My lords, I have a pleasant plan, by which
In less than no time we may all be rich —
[Enter Ruy Blas, dressed magnificently, through curtains at the back. He listens unperceived.
In Queen Maria's kitchen, pounds, I find
Are lost in perquisites of every kind:
The servants' kitchen stuff, alone, I'm told
Is worth a hundred thousand pounds in gold.
The fees that tradesmen to the butler pay
Amount to several hundred pounds a day.
The Christmas boxes, too! They, give. I hear,
A box upon the opening of each year!
The butter vanishes — so does the tea —
Best seconds disappear, and, like the bee,
They get them money all the day from flours,
These seconds, gentle sirs, may well be 'ours.
[During these lines, Ruy has been expressing, in pantomime, the profoundest disgust at Don Diego's proposal.
Stop all the servants' perquisites, the pests!
Cram all their wastes into our private chests!
Reduce their rations and cut down their wages,
Butlers and footmen, chambermaids and pages!
This is what I propose with all submission.
All. Hear ! hear! hear! hear!
Ruy. (aside) Outrageous proposition!
Received with, if the truth must be confessed,
Cheers which with difficulty we suppressed!
(Coming forward.) So, gentlemen, I've overheard your plan,
(To Diego.) Oh, fie upon you! Call yourself a man?
Before I'd try so vile a game, I'd eat
For a whole fortnight nothing but cold meat.
How are the men to live without a ration?
Diego. Well, as for that there's public approbation.
Virtue's its own reward — the saying's true.
Ruy. All the reward it's like to get from you.
The bravo you employ to kill your foe
Is he rewarded if you say "Bravo?"
Your cavalry who fight for you afar,
Are not contented with a mere "Hussar."
The tradesman who supplies your bad veneers,
Thinks tables cheaply bought when paid with cheers.
The tailor, too, who fits you for Pall Mall,
Wants something more than the remark, "'Tis (s)well!"
And so your cook, whose joints with gravy run,
Deserves some better payment than "Well done!"
There's plenty to reform — peers — church — elections —
Places bestowed on penniless connections.
And yet in council you've conspiring been
To cheat your household servant! Why, it's mean!
For such behaviour none could find excuse,
You've cooked your estimates — and cooked your goose!
Don Diego. Though wretched hunters in the usual sense,
Yet at your railing, sir, we take offence,
So draw, unless you wish to make us wilder,
Your bitter rail considerably milder.
Upon the whole, we think we'd best resign
Here is my resignation, sir (tendering paper).
All the others. And mine!
Ruy. Good — this day month (aside) unlucky observation!
(Aloud) Her Majesty accepts your resignation?
[Nobles bow and exeunt.
So, so; that's settled. Now to tell the Queen
Once more how fond of her I've always been.
She's but half wedded — only half a bride —
And that can easily be set aside.
Shall Carlos from his love Don Cæsar, saver?
No, no — I love her — and what's more, I'll 'ave her.
I know she loves me — that she'll freely own;
Why, it will prove the key unto the throne!
No more cold mutton, beef that's hard and junky,
A thrown-key! and just now I was a flung-key!
But while I've here been chattering about
Affection's warmth, the fire's been going out!
[He rings the bell — enter Sallust, dressed as a footman, in Ruy's old livery. Put on some coals (sees Sallust) Ha! Sallust's every feature!
Oh, thou reverse of a Sallustial creature.
So, you've come down to livery, I see!
Put on the coals, and quick about it be.
I can't stand flunkies, grooms, and men-in-waiting,
P'r'aps it's because my nature's vassal-hating.
How have you managed to come down so low,
You once were such a heavy swell, you know?
Betting and ratting? Losses on the turf? [Sallust nods.
Well, heavy swells do often and in serf!
Sall. I gave the word, "look sharp" — there's no gainsayin' it
When I say "look sharp," you must be obeyin' it. [Ruy puts on coals.
I'll have you yet to serve me at my table,
An able valet is most valley-able.
Comic dance and exeunt.
22 August, 2011