Home  »  The World’s Wit and Humor  »  Ragotin’s Civility

The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Paul Scarron (1610–1660)

Ragotin’s Civility

From “The Comic Romance”

AS soon as Destiny had stripped himself of his old embroidery and put on his ordinary wearing apparel, La Rapinière took him to the common jail, because the man they had taken that day the curate of Domfront was set upon desiring to speak to. In the mean time the actresses went home to their inn with a numerous attendance of citizens. Ragotin happening to be near Cave as she came out of the tennis-court where they had acted, offered her his hand to lead her home, though he would rather have paid that polite service to his dear Star; he did the like to Angelica, so that he was squire upon the right and left. This double civility occasioned a treble inconvenience, for Cave, who had the upper hand, as in all reason she ought, was crowded to the wall by Ragotin, that Angelica might not be forced to walk in the gutter. Besides, the little dwarf, reaching no higher than their waists, pulled down their hands so much, that they could scarce keep themselves from tumbling over him. But what most troubled them was his so often looking behind to stare at Madam Star, who was talking to a couple of country gallants, who would by all means escort her to her lodgings against her will. The poor actresses endeavored many times to get loose from their gentleman usher, but he held so fast that they felt themselves in fetters.

They requested him a hundred times to spare himself his trouble, but he only answered, “Your servant, your servant” (his ordinary compliment), and gripped their hands ever harder and harder. Therefore they were fain to be patient till they came to their chamber-stairs, where they hoped to be set at liberty. But Ragotin was better bred; and repeating only “Your servant, your servant,” to all they could say, he endeavored at first to go up with them abreast, which he found impossible. Then Cave turned her back to the wall and crept up sideways, dragging Ragotin after her, who dragged Angelica in like manner, she dragging nobody, but laughing like mad.

Now as an additional inconvenience, when they were within four or five steps of their chamber-door, down comes a servant belonging to the inn, with a huge sack of oats of excessive weight on his back, who, with much ado—so heavy was his load—bids them go down, because he could not get up again with his burden. Ragotin must needs argue the case with him; the fellow swore bluntly he would let his sack fall upon them. This made them go down much faster than they had come up; but Ragotin would not, for all that, let go his hold. The man with the oats pressed on close behind them, which caused Ragotin to miss a step, so that he hung in the air, still holding the actresses by the hand, till he pulled down Cave upon him, who supported him more than her daughter by reason of the advantage of the place. Thus she tumbled down upon him, lighting with her feet on the pygmy’s chest and belly, and knocked her head so fiercely against her daughter’s that they lay all three rolling on the floor. The fellow, thinking they could not easily get up in time, and being no longer able to support his load, let his sack down upon the stairs, swearing and cursing like an hostler. The sack burst open with the fall, and in came mine host, who scolded like mad. But as he was angry at the fellow, so the fellow was angry at the players, and they as angry at Ragotin, who was the angriest of them all; but Madam Star, coming not far behind, was witness of this disgraceful scene, not much inferior to that late adventure of the deep-crowned hat, wherein his head had been most unmercifully pent up, not to be recovered until a pair of scissors had broken the enchantment. Cave swore a great oath that Ragotin should never lead her again, and showed Madam Star how black and blue he had squeezed her hand. Star told her it was a just judgment for robbing her of Ragotin, who had engaged to bring her back to her lodgings after the play, adding she was glad of the mischance that had befallen him for breaking his word. However, he heard nothing of this, being all the while in dispute with mine host, who threatened to make him pay, the waste of his oats, and had already offered to beat his servant on the same account, who for that reason beat Ragotin, and called him a pettifogger. Angelica began to banter him in her turn, and reproached him with his infidelity to Madam Star.

In fine, Fortune showed plainly how little she was yet concerned in the promises made to Ragotin, of making him gain her affection to such a degree as would render him more happy than any lover in the whole country of Mayne—nay, Le Perche and Laval added. The oats were swept up again, and the actresses went into their chamber one by one, without any further misfortune. Ragotin did not follow them, nor can I tell exactly what became of him. Supper-time at last came, and to supper they went. After supper all withdrew to their respective apartments, and Destiny locked himself in with the actresses in order to pursue his story.