An apartment in the Rue Vivienne, Paris. DES GRIEUX discovered writing at his desk. MANON softly
approaches him from behind and tries to read what he has written.
DES GRIEUX (seated at his cabinet ceasing to write, and
in a tone of reproach.) Manon!
MANON (gaily.) Are you afraid which I should do some
harm by coming so near you?
DES GREUX. Indiscreet Manon!
MANON. Yes, I have looked over your shoulder, and
with a. smile saw you write my name.
DES GRIEUX. This letter is for my father. I tremble lest he
should read in his anger what I write from my heart.
MANON. You are afraid?
DES GREUX. Yes, Manon, I'm afraid.
MANON. Ah, well, then we'll read it together.
DES GEIEUX. That's the way. Together we'll read.
MANON (reading with simplicity,) "She is called
Manon, and is so young and fair. In her all charms unite. She has grace,
radiant youth and beauty; music flows in a stream from her lips; in her eyes
shines the tender light of love."
DES GRIEUX (ardently). In her eyes shines the tender
light of love.
MANON. Is this true? Ah! I knew it not. (tenderly) But
I know how much I am loved.
DES GREUX ( with passion). Thou art loved! Manon, I
MANON. Come, come, good sir, there's more to read yet.
DES GRIEUX. "Like a bird that through all lands
follows the spring, so her young soul to life is ever open. Her lips, like
flowers, smile and speak to the zephyrs that kiss them in passing."
MANON. (repeating). "To the zephyrs that kiss
them in passing." (Pensively.) Do you think your father will give
DES GRIEUX. Can he, in such a matter, oppose my wishes?
MANON Thou desire is it?
DES GREUX. I desire it, with all my soul!
MANON). Then embrace me, Chevalier.
( They embrace. )
And now, go -send the letter.
DES GREUX. I go at once. ( He moves quickly towards
the door and halts. ) Those flowers are very beautiful. Who gave them to
MANON (quickly). I do not know.
DES GREUX. What ! thou dost not know !
MANON (laughing). A fine theme for a quarrel!
Some one threw them in at the window, and, as they were pretty I kept
them. I hope thou are not jealous.
DES GRIEUX (tenderly). No! I swear that in thy love I have a
MANON. Thou are right. My heart is thine alone..
DES GRIEUX. What means that noise. (A Maid- servant enters in alarm.)
MAIDSERVANT. Two garde-du-corps are below.. One calls himself a
relation of madame.
MANON. Lescaut ! 'Tis Lescaut !
MAIDSERVANT (speaking low and rapidly to Manoin). The other is; let us
speak low - the State official who lives near here.
MANON ( softly). Monsieur de Brétigny? MAIDSERVANT. Monsieur de
Brétigny. (The noise increases.)
DES GRIEUX. This is too much. I'll go and see for myself. (As he is
about to go, the door opens De Brétigny dressed as a garde-du-corps and
Lescaut enter. )
LESCAUT (brusquely). At last, sweet pretty pair, I have found you it
DE BRÉTIGNY. Be merciful, Lescaut. Rave pity' on their youth.
LESCAUT (insolently to Des Grieux). I have learned, sir, from you a
lesson in politeness. You precaucious rascal !
DES GREUX (quickly). What's that? Use softer:
words, I pray.
LESCAUT ( ironically ). Use softer words!
DES GREUX (calm but menacing.) Yes, softer words.
LESCAUT. Sir, I shall choke with just rage if I keep silence. I am here, sir,
to avenge the honor of our house. Redress for wrong I seek; redress for wrong
I'll find; and 'tis to me you speak of softer words! Ah, bah!
DE BRÉTIGNY. Calm thyself.
LESCAUT (to Des Grieux ). You Knave !
DE BRÉTIGNY. Hold thy tongue.
DES GRIEUX. Well, Sir, and now let me say 1. shall whip you.
LESCAUT. Eh? (To De Brétigny ). What does he mean?
DE BRETIGNY. His meaning is clear. Re will whip you.
LESCAUT. Was ever known such an insolent fellow! Does he threaten?
DE BRÉTIGNY. I think he does.
LESCAUT. Now by heaven and by earth! You. knave ! Rascal! (To De Brétigny.) Pray,
hold me back Or I shall do some fearful thing!
Such vengeance through the world
DE BRÉTIGNY. De be
calm, Lescaut. See, remorse has struck them both). Come, Lescaut, forget thy
MANON. Ah! chevalier, I die of fright. I trust in thee;
'This true I am the guilty one, But watch over me.
DES GRIEUX. O, Manon, yield not thus to fright. But trust in me;
I only am the guilty one, I'll watch over thee.
DE BRÉTIGNY. Lescaut, why give way so to anger? Explain yourself more clearly
LESCAUT (pomponesly ). Well, I consent. ( To Des Grieux. ) This
lady here is my cousin, and I come quite politely
DES GRIEUX ( still menacingly. ) 0 yes, quite so. LESCAUT.
Indeed, quite so. Yes, I come quite politely, just to say: 'Good sir, I do not
wish to quarrel, but answer 'Yes,' or answer 'No' do you agree to wed Manon?
DE BRÉTIGNY and LESCAUT. The thing is Clear;
This is the plan
For every man
Who holds his honor dear.
DE BRÉTIGNY (to Des Grieux ). And now are you
DE GRIEUX (laughing ). In truth I have lost all my
anger. Your frankness is pleasing to me.
DE BRÉTIGNY and LESCAUT. The thing is clear,
etc. DES GRIEUX (to Lescaut. ) I have just written to my father (showing
his letter. ) Before I seal the letter up, will you be pleased to read my
LESCAUT (taking the Letter). That I will. But this!
getting dark. ( Observing Manon and De Brétigny). Let us both go for
better light (purposely drawing Des Grieux away) and stand there nearer
the window. With greater ease we'll read your letter.
(Lescaut goes up the stage with Des Grieux.)
MANON (to De Brétigny, furtively). Wherefore come in
here in such a strange disguise?
DE BRÉTIGNY. Are you annoyed?
MANON. Rather say angry. Well you know that yonder stands
the man I love.
DE BRÉTIGNY. I desired in my own person to warn you that,
tonight, from this house he will be carried off.
DE BRÉTIGNY. By order of his father.
MANON (with emotion and surprise). By order of his
MANON (with emotion and surprise.) By order of his
DE BRÉTIGNY. Yes, before this night has passed he will be
MANON (taking a step towards Des Grieux). It shall
not be. I will warn him.
DE BRÉTIGNY (stopping her). Prevent it not. It would
be dire poverty for him, for you; but keep your counsel well, and silence will
lead to fortune. Is it agreed?
MANON (excitedly and in fear). Oh pray speak low!
DE BRÉTIGNY. 'This fortune calls you, Manon, my voice calls
you away to life and liberty.
MANON (aside). My heart is torn with doubt and fear;
Dare I listen? dare I hear?
DE BRÉTIGNY. Manon, full soon you shall be queen, reigning
in beauty's right.
MANON. Ah! away, away.
LESCAUT (reading with emphasis'. "She is called
Manon, and is so young and fair. In her all charms unite." Very touching
DES GRIEUX. Ah! Lescaut; how madly I adore here, 'tis not
in thee to know, nor can I tell.
LESCAUT. You'll marry her? (Reading). "As a
bird through all lands follows the spring" the poetry of love! so her
young soul to life"
this is poetry! This is ever open." 'This love! You'll
LESCAUT. Very good! Nothing could be better. Accept, I beg,
my compliments. ( To Manon.) Dear cousin( pompously) ; my esteem
is yours, believe me. Now take my) hand, for it would be a crime to stand in
love's sweet way. My children I bless you both with tears of joy. ( To De
Brétigny, aside). Let us go.
DE BRÉTIGNY. Let us go.
LESCAUT AND DE BRÉTIGNY (as they retire). The thing
is clear, etc.
MANON. (pensively, aside). Ah! What pain! DES GREUX (with
ecstasy, aside ).
Round me shines the light of love,
The light that flows from heaven above. ( The
maidservant enters with a lamp. )
What is it now?
MAIDESERVANT. Supper-time, sir.
( The Maidservant lays the cloth for supper. )
DES GREUX (undecided. ) Manon !
MANON. Well !
DES GRIEUX. I love thee! I adore thee! Say, do thou
MANON. Truly, my dear, I love thee.
DES GREUX. in that case thou must promise me MANON. What?
DES GREUX (lightly. ) Nothing at all. Let me take my
letter. (Exit Des Grieux. )
MANON (much moved. ) Alas ! it must be ; even for
his sake his poor chevalier ! I love him well, yet I shrink from this great
sacrifice! No! No! I am no longer worthy of him.
Once more on my ear falls the tempter's voice.
Who against it can fight?
"Manon, Manon, as a queen thou shall reign.
By beauty's right."
Ah! How feeble am I! Flow weak and frail!
See how my cheeks are wet with tears!
Earth's fairest visions do not last.
Ah! Will it be in future years
As in the days forever past?
(Slowly she approaches the supper-table. )
Farewell, our pretty little table! So small, and yet, so
large for us. Side by side so often there we've sat. ( With a sad smile.) Ismile as now I call to mind what little space we lovers filled. Asingle glass served both of us, and each, in drinking, sought upon its
margin where dear lips had been. Ah ! Best of friends, how thou hast loved! ( She
hears Des Grieux approaching. )
'This he! My pallid face will tell a tale, I fear.
(Des Grieux enters. )
DES GRIEUX. At last, Manon, we're left alone together. (He
approaches her.) How now! thou're weeping !
DES GREUX. Thy hand too is trembling!
MANON (forcing a smile. ) Please, sir, our supper
DES GEIEUX. Ah! True. My brain is wandering.
But all earth's joys soon pass away,
And when the heart is light and gay,
Fear whispers, "No delight can stay."
MANON. Be seated.
DES GEIEUX. O, charming hour! When all fears are
forgotten, and we freely speak of our love! Listen, Manon! On my way I dreamed
the sweetest dream.
MANON (bitterly aside.)
DES GRIEUX. With fancy's eye, I saw, Manon, a sweet and lowly cot. Its
white walls, decked with flowers fair, gleamed through the wood, beneath whose
peaceful shadow ran clear the babbling brook. Overhead, 'mid verdant leaves,
sang so sweet and full the joyous birds. This is Paradise! Ah, no! All
is so sad and drear, for thou, my only love, thou art not there.
MANON ( softly. ) 'This a vision ! 'This but fancy !
DES GRIEUX. No; for thus we'll pass our life if but thou
(A low knock at the door is
MANON (aside). Oh, heaven! Already !
DES GRIEUX. That knock! It is too bad to spoil our pleasure. ( Rising.)
I'll soon send the intruder away, and then return.
MANON (troubled). Adieu !
DES GRIEUX (astonished). Adieu !
MANON (much moved). No ! thou shall not go.
DES GREUX. Why not?
M ANON. Ah ! do not leave me now, I entreat thee. I would rest 'within thy
DES GRIEUX (gently releasing himself). My child, let me go.
MANON. No !
DES GRIEUX. Manon, hear me.
MANON. No !
DES GRIEUX. I pray !
MANON. Go thou shall not.
DES GRIEUX. Who can it be? 'This Very strange. I will send him away in fashion
most polite, then return, and together we'll laugh at thy folly.
(Exit Des Grieux.)
(Des Grieux is gagged and dragged away. Manon
runs to the window. )
MANON (overcome with grief). Oh my poor chevalier!
End of Act II.