Zoe Trahanache

from The Lost Letter ACT II SCENE V ZOE(alone; nervous, she takes out the newspaper and reads)"In tomorrow's issue of our gazette we shall reproduce an interesting sentimental letter from a notable of our town to a lady of great influence. Beginning tomorrow, the original will be at the disposal of those curious to see it in our newsroom. This is all for today. A bon entendeur, salut!…" (She walks up and down agitated, then stops as if struck by sudden inspiration.) We must vote for Caţavencu. There's no doubt about it, no time for thinking. To fight against such a scoundrel, who holds us in his hand so tight, would be childish…It would be madness… Fănică…must agree…he must… What of it, after all Caţavencu may be as good a deputy as any other… But where is Fănică? Where could he be?… SCENE VIZoe and Tipătescu coming from the back TIPĂTESCUZoe! There you are! ZOEFănică, I was waiting for you… What have you done? You had Caţavencu arrested. Have you thought well of what you have done? How did it cross your mind to do such a thing? Why did you do it? TIPĂTESCU(nervous)Why? Why? You ask me why? Because of your foolish act, to avoid the catastrophe caused by your negligence. Such distraction! Such carelessness! To throw a love letter carelessly in your pocket like a hanky, and lose it as if it were an ordinary piece of paper, a handbill you throw away after the show… I never expected such a lack of judgment, to tell you the truth! What the heck, you're a grown woman, you're no longer a child. Such negligence cannot be found even in novels and plays! ZOEJudge me, Fănică, judge me… (Cries.) Yes, you're right… I was a child… I did an unbelievable stupid thing; but know it must be fixed. Fănică, if you love me, if you cared for me for one single moment of your life, save me… save me from humiliation! You're a man, you don't care! To you, the revelation of our intrigue wouldn't be a disaster… But to me… Fănică, think about it, think. (Cries.) TIPĂTESCUThat is precisely why I made sure about Caţavencu… ZOEIt's no use, Fănică; Caţavencu may die today, but tomorrow his gazette is going to publish our letter anyway. My God! Think how they'll be snatching the paper from one another, how they'll be tearing me apart, and laugh!… A week, a month, a year this affair is going to be their only talk… In this small town, where men and women and children have no other amusement but gossip, even without reason…The more so when there is one… And what a reason, Fănică!… What a roar! What a scandal! What infernal chronicles!… And me, Fănică, what am I going to do in the meantime? Die? I'll die if you want so… Because I'll never be able to live after all that! TIPĂTESCUThen, if there is no choice… Zoe! Zoe! You love me… ZOEI love you, but save me. TIPĂTESCULet us elope… ZOE(drawing back)Are you out of your mind? How about Zaharia? How about your position? How about the even hotter scandal that would break out behind us?… TIPĂTESCU(discouraged)Then there's nothing left to do? ZOEYes there is! TIPĂTESCUWhat? ZOELet's support Caţavencu's candidature! TIPĂTESCU(starting)No way! ZOELet's vote for him! TIPĂTESCUNever. ZOEWe must. TIPĂTESCUOver my dead body! Are you thinking what you're saying? This is the message I got hold of a few minutes ago; the rascal who found your letter, the drunkard I met yesterday, brought it to the telegraph. It's an anonymous message. I stopped it and ordered the telegraph to halt every communication without my express permission; but how can I know what an encoded message contains?… Here it is: "Betrayal! The prefect and his people are betraying the party for the nifilist Caţavencu whom they intend to elect for the second section. Betrayal, betrayal, three times betrayal… Several members of the party…" Whatever may happen, we cannot support the scoundrel, no, no, no!… Tell me, shall we look for, find another way? ZOE(devastated)I don't see another way…There is no other way. TIPĂTESCUThen… ZOEThen… (sobbing) leave me, leave me in my misfortune… let me die, overcome with shame… Kill me, who loved you, who sacrificed everything for you… That's where it brought me! So much for the value of your promises! You brought me to death, because (determined) I'm going to kill myself before the scandal breaks out, today, now, right here! You brought me to death, and you can save me, and you let me die… (Cries.) TIPĂTESCUZoe! Zoe! ZOELeave me alone… If your ambition, if your political trifles come before my embarrassment, my life, let me… Let me die… (Cries.) Die certain that for eight long years you have been lying to me every minute, that you have never loved me, never, never… TIPĂTESCUZoe! Let's see, let's think it over… ZOEThere is no time to think, Fănică! Every minute that passes for me is one step closer to destruction… You must decide! TIPĂTESCU(fighting with himself)Decide! Decide… ZOE(sobbing)A short while ago I was on Lipscani street and I found out about Caţavencu's arrest. I ran like mad to the news room. This is the article prepared by their committee. (She hands him the paper. Tipătescu reads it slowly.) Now you understand what we must expect after his arrest, don't you? TIPĂTESCUThis man is gambling his life! ZOEHe's not gambling his, Fănică, but mine; I'm telling you again… It's one or the other: either you love me and I live on, and then fighting against Caţavencu is hopeless – you must yield to me; or you don't, and then I'll die, and if you let me die, after I die come what may… (Shattered:) I made up my mind… (Suddenly all her energy returns:) Yes, I made up my mind, but I will not die without fighting against all odds (with intensifying energy) and I will fight! I'll fight against you with all my might, you ungrateful, heartless man! It's you I must fight, because now you're the biggest snag, which keeps me from redeeming my peace!… Yes, I'm determined, and I must overcome everything, including you… I'm so determined that I ordered Ghiţă a few minutes ago to release Caţavencu and invite him in on my behalf… TIPĂTESCUYou crazy woman! What have you done? ZOEI've done what I thought had to be done. If you don't want to support Caţavencu, if you don't want to vote for him to save me, then I, who want to be saved, will support him, and I'll vote for him… TIPĂTESCUWhat? ZOEYes, I'll vote for him. I'm for Caţavencu, my husband with all his votes must be for Caţavencu. In short, who fights Caţavencu will have to fight me… Come on, Fănică, fight, crush me, you who said you loved me! Let's see! (Walks to the right.) TIPĂTESCUZoe! ZOELeave me alone! (Exit.) TIPĂTESCU(watching her go out)Zoe! Zoe! (He goes after her. The stage is empty for a moment.) ACT IV SCENE VTipătescu, Zoe, then Pristanda ZOE(going downstairs hurriedly)Have you heard, Fănică? Have you? Your honest Mr. Agamiţă, who prevails, who triumphs, is keeping the letter… What should the honest Caţavencu do now, who did not prevail, who is now biting his fingers, chewing his rage, and stalking me from who knows what hole? (Nervous:) Ah! Thinking of it makes me shudder! What is Caţavencu doing? Where is the snake hiding? Wherefrom is he going to throw his venom at me? TIPĂTESCUZoe! Zoe! Be a manness… ZOE(sobbing)I can't, I can't any more. Dandanache's words sapped all my strength, they broke my heart… Ah! I'm scared out of my wits. (She hides her face.) PRISTANDA(running in from the left)Dame Joiţica! Dame Joiţica!… TIPĂTESCUGhiţă! ZOE(starting)Ghiţă… What is it? Speak! PRISTANDA (halting)Dame Joiţica, I wanted to… ZOE(simmering)Speak out, don't torture me! What is it? He published it? Let me see it! (very nervous:) Let me see it! TIPĂTESCUZoe! You're crazy! PRISTANDA(to himself)Pure crazy! ZOEYes, I'm crazy! And it's you I must thank for this! PRISTANDA(trying to soothe her)No, dame Joiţica, it's nothing, nothing was published… The Howl didn't even come out today… After Caţavencu's flight, the eggheads started a brawl, then took to fisticuffs, jabbed father Pripici, and forgot about the paper… Gone is the independent party… it's gone! (Softly to Zoe, on his way toward Tipătescu:) I've got a secret to tell you, right now! TIPĂTESCUWhat did I say? How about Caţavencu? PRISTANDAI haven't found him, master Fănică, he vanished into thin air. (Striking his forehead as if suddenly remembering something:) Oh, I forgot something! Please forgive me, master Fănică… The minister… No, the ministers, all seven of them, want you at the telegraph right now… That's why I was desperately looking for you… TIPĂTESCUAt the telegraph? What else do they want from me? PRISTANDAI don't know, but the telegraph has been tapping for an hour now, master Fănică, you've got to go. TIPĂTESCUOh, damned politics! Zoe, take heart, I'm going… ZOEGo. TIPĂTESCUI'll be back soon. (He kisses her hand.) Zoe, be good! We're not lost. Don't worry. Good bye. (Exit.) ZOEGood bye. Ah, how can I be in love with this man?! (She falls musing. Pristanda follows Tipătescu to the door and watches him going away.) SCENE VIZoe, Pristanda PRISTANDA(after making sure Tipătescu is away, he returns in a hurry)Dame Joiţica! ZOE(started)Ah! Ghiţă! You startled me again… What is it? What do you want? Go, leave me alone! PRISTANDAPlease, dame Joiţica, don't be mad at me. (Very cautiously:) There is somebody….somebody you know well…waiting for you here… He would like to talk to you… Only to you… That's why I sent master Fănică to the telegraph, so that you could be alone… I lied to him… The ministers are not calling for him… I know he'll give me a going-over… thrash me for sending him on a wild goose chase, but let him scold me… thrash me… Ain't he my boss? Ain't he my master, who gives bread to me and eleven other souls? I lied to him, but for your good, dame Joiţica… You