A monologue from Act III

by: Henri Lavedan

NOTE: Translated from the French by Barrett H. Clark, this version of The Prince D'Aurec was published in 1914 by Henry Holt & Company in the anthology Three Modern Plays From the French. It is now a public domain work and may be performed without royalties.

DUCHESS: You ask me what reasons? You, the faithful friend to whom all my troubles are known? Just remember what my life was as a girl of eighteen, when you used to come and have supper Sunday nights with Papa and me! At that time my only love, my one idea, was the nobility. When one mentioned any of the famous heroes of French history in my presence, whenever I read about the deeds of old, my heart beat at a terrible rate! The nobles! In my eyes they were something high above us, something apart, by reason of their better deeds and thoughts and aspirations! They were for me the essence of the good qualities of the whole race. This superior race was in duty bound to carry on the traditions of the past; each member was part of a long line of ancestors, and it was his sole object in life to hand down intact to his son the unstained family name. I said to myself: "If by any chance I ever make a place for myself in that closed caste, I, Virginia Piédoux, will do my best to honor it." -- What a dream! The dream came true, I do belong to the class, and now I know it is less important than my own. I'm punished! [Pause.] When I think of the different life I might have lived if I had not been so obstinate and blind-- [Pause.] You were an attorney then, a simple attorney, beginning your legal career. Would I consent to become merely Madame Sorbier? Nothing of the sort, I would by Countess, Marquise, Duchess! Ah, if I had only been willing to be the wife of M. Sorbier, an upright and honorable man, instead of the Duchess de Talais, I shouldn't be crying over my wasted life! I should have had fine children who were not ashamed of their mother, nor should I be ashamed of them; I should not belong to the Faubourg, the servants would not announce, "Madame la duchasse, the dinner is served." But Madame Sorbier would have been a happy woman! Forgive me, I sinned through pride. Forgive me!

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