(The shabby salon of Harpagon. Sparsely furnished. One entrance SR to the front door, one entrance SL to the kitchen and other parts of the house. Entrance to the garden UC with large glass windows and a door. One old sofa with a pillow on it in the salon. Discoloration on the walls where paintings once hung. HARPAGON is discovered, DL, alone, sitting at a writing desk, with quill pen, paper, and piles of coins. He is doing the bills. He speaks alone.)
Fifteen sous for the horses! The horses!? What are they eating!? Gilded oats!? Ridiculous. Six, and not a penny more. (He counts out a few coins.) Wages, the cook. Why do we need a cook? My daughter, my son, my cook-- all these people underfoot, depending on me for their livelihood! Expecting money every time they lift a spoon. They’re going to break me, all of them! Not to mention my ungrateful spoiled children who want things, things, things! And I’m the supplier. We won’t make it through the day with these bills. (Looks through list.) Shoes resoled? Oh, yes, mine. (He counts out the coins and places them with the others.) My son would just go and buy a new pair. My son has to have a valet! He can’t put his own clothes on!? (Checks off the list.) Well, that’s it. And we’ve got some left over. But it’s never enough. Precious little. God knows we’re going to need it. But it’s not enough! I’ve got to make more. How can I make more? Who makes more out there? Who always has enough money? Hah! The blood-sucking moneylenders! If I want to have enough, I have to become one of them! It’s as simple as that. I’ve got to find someone to help me get a money-lending business going. Who do I know? Hah! Send someone to fetch him. Valere! Valere!
Where can he be off to? Where is everybody when I need them!? La Fleche!? LA FLECHE!!?? I told my son that valet of his was a good-for-nothing, but did he listen!? Jacques! Jacques!!??
(JACQUES comes bolting into the room, apron on, slapping his chef’s hat on.)
Oui, monsieur! Shall I prepare un diner!?
No, no no. I want you to go on an errand.
Oh, for some cutlets? Some fromage? Shall I bring ‘ome somesing speciale for our diner?
No, no no! Your vegetable soup is perfectly fine.
Oui, monsieur. But I make eet every night.
And you’ll go on making it every night, as long as we have vegetables from the garden.
Here, take this note to a Maitre Simon at that address, and come back with an answer.
(He starts to go, dejected.)
Are you sure you don’t want...
(MAITRE JACQUES goes. HARPAGON puts his coins into a cashbox, locks it, puts the key in his pocket, looks around the room, starts for the garden, then hears the offstage voices of ELISE and VALERE.)
STAY OUT! OUT!
(The voices stop abruptly.)
Can’t let them see the cashbox. Can’t let anyone know where I hide it. They’d rob me blind. DON’T ANYONE COME IN HERE, DO YOU HEAR ME! Not to worry, nobody will find it where I’ve buried it. Who would think of looking in the garden!? That’s right—grow your own vegetables, it’s much cheaper. And they grow so much faster and larger with gold under them!
(He exits upstage center into the garden, which can be only partially seen from the audience. LA FLECHE enters from behind the screen.)
Screens are very useful things. You can learn so much. I think I’ll hold on to that information for a while. I have a feeling it will come in handy.