Short summary - Scapin the Schemer
Molière - Jean-Baptiste Poquelin
From the experience of their own youth, knowing well that sons need an eye and an eye, Argante and Geront, when they left Naples on business, entrusted the care of the children to servants: Octave, the son of Argante, was left under the supervision of Sylvester, and Geronte's son Leandre were scoundrels Scapena. However, in the role of mentors and overseers, the servants were not painfully zealous, so the young people were free to use the time of parental absence entirely at their discretion.
Leandre immediately started an affair with a pretty gypsy Zerbinetta, with whom he spent all his days. Once Octave saw Leandre off, and on the way to the place where the gypsy lived, the friends heard that weeping and groaning were heard from one house. For the sake of curiosity, they looked inside and saw a dead old woman, over whom a young girl was shedding tears. Leander thought that she was very good-looking, while Octave fell in love with her without memory. From that day on, he only thought that about Hyacinth - that was the name of the girl - and with all his might sought reciprocity from her, but she was modest, and besides, as they said, came from a noble family. So the only way he had at his disposal was to call Hyacinth his own - to marry her. And so he did.
After the marriage, only three days passed, when from a letter from a relative of Octave he learned the terrible news for him: Argante and Geronte are not returning today tomorrow, and the father has a firm intention to marry Octave to Geronte's daughter, whom no one has seen, since she still lived with her mother in Tarentum. Octave did not want to part with his young wife, and Hyacinth begged him not to leave her. Having promised her to settle everything with her father, Octave still had no idea how to do it. The thought of his father's anger upon meeting him terrified him.
But it was not for nothing that Leandre's servant Scapin was known as a rare rogue and a rogue. He willingly undertook to help the grief of Octave - it was easy for him. When Argante pounced on Sylvester with abuse because, through his oversight, Octave married unknown to whom and without his father's knowledge, Scapenus, intervening in the conversation, saved the servant from the master's wrath, and then gave Argant a story about how the relatives of the Hyacinths caught her with her his poor son and forcibly married. Argante was about to run to the notary to dissolve the marriage, but Scapin stopped him: firstly, for the sake of saving his and his father's honor, Octave should not admit that he did not marry of his own free will; secondly, he will not admit it, since he is quite happy in marriage.
Argante was beside himself. He regretted that Octave was his only offspring - if he had not lost his little daughter many years ago, she could have inherited the entire paternal state. But Octave, who was not yet deprived of his inheritance, did not have enough money, he was persecuted by creditors. Scapin promised to help him in this difficulty, and to shake a couple of hundred pistols out of Argante.
Geront, when he learned about Octave's marriage, was offended by Argante for not keeping his word to marry his son to his daughter. He began to reproach Argante for Octave's poor upbringing, while Argante, in a polemical fervor, took and declared that Leander could do something worse than what Octave had done; while he referred to Scapena. It is clear that the meeting of Geronte with his son after that turned out to be unpleasant for Leandre.
Leander, although his father did not accuse him of anything in particular, wished to settle accounts with the traitor Scapen. Fearing severe beatings, Scapin did not admit anything: he drank the master's barrel of wine with a friend, then dumping it on the servant, and pocketed the watch sent by Leander as a gift to Zerbinetta, and beat the owner himself one night, pretending to be a werewolf, so that he it was to chase servants at night on trifling errands. But he was never denounced as denunciations.
Scapena was saved from the continuation of the reprisal by a man who told Leandro that the gypsies were leaving the city and taking Zerbinetta with them - if Leandre did not pay five hundred ecu ransom for her in two hours, he would never see her again. The young man did not have such money, and he turned to the same Scapen for help. For the sake of decency, the servant protested, but then agreed to help, especially since it was even easier to extract money from the close-minded Geronte than from Argant, who was not inferior to him in stinginess.
Argante Scapin has prepared a whole performance for. He told him that he had visited his brother Hyacinth - a notorious thug and dashing swashbuckler - and persuaded him to agree to divorce for a certain amount. Argante perked up, but when Scapin said that only two hundred pistols were needed, he said that it would be better to seek a divorce through the courts. Then Scapin set out to describe the delights of judicial red tape, which, by the way, also costs the litigant money; Argant stood his ground.
But then Sylvester, disguised as a thug, appeared and, scattering terrible curses, demanded that Scapen show him the scoundrel and scoundrel Argante, who wants to sue him in order to achieve Octave's divorce from his sister. He rushed with a sword at Argante, but Scapenus convinced the imaginary thug that this was not Argante, but his worst enemy. Sylvester nevertheless continued to swing his sword furiously, demonstrating how he would deal with Father Octave. Argante, looking at him, decided at last that it would be cheaper to part with two hundred pistols.
To lure money from Geront, Scapin came up with the following story: in the harbor, a Turkish merchant lured Leandre to his galley - allegedly wanting to show him various wonders - and then sailed away and demanded a ransom of five hundred ecu for the young man; if not, he intended to sell Leander into slavery to the Algerians. Believe something Geront immediately believed, but he was too sorry for the money. First, he said that he would report to the police - and that was about a Turk at sea! - then he offered Scapin to go hostage instead of Leandre, but in the end he still parted with his wallet.
Octave and Leander were at the height of happiness, having received parental money from Scapen, with which one could redeem his beloved from the gypsies, and the other could live humanly with a young wife. Scapin also intended to settle accounts with Geront, who had slandered him before Leander.
Leander and Octave decided that, until everything was settled, Zerbinetta and Hyacinte were better off together under the supervision of loyal servants. The girls immediately became friends, only they did not agree on whose position was more difficult: Hyacinths, from whom they wanted to take away their beloved husband, or Zerbinetta, who, unlike her friend, could not hope to ever find out who her parents were. So that the girls would not be too discouraged, Scapin entertained them with a story about how he deceived the money from the fathers Octave and Leandre. Scapena's story amused her friends, but he himself almost came out sideways later.
Meanwhile, Scapin found time to take revenge on Geronte for slander. He scared Geront to death with a story about his brother Hyacinth, who vowed to deal with him because he allegedly intends to get Octave's divorce through the courts, and then marry the young man to his daughter; soldiers from the company of this very brother, according to Scapin, have already blocked all approaches to Geront's house. Making sure that the story had the expected effect on Geront, Scapen offered his help - he would put the owner in a bag and so carry him past the ambush. Geronte agreed briskly.
As soon as he climbed into the bag, Scapin, speaking in two voices, enacted a dialogue with a Gascon soldier, burning with hatred for Geronte; the servant defended the master, for which he was allegedly brutally beaten - in fact, he only lamented, and he himself thrashed the bag with a stick from his heart. When the imaginary danger had passed and the beaten Geront leaned out, Scapin began to complain that most of the blows had all the same fell on his poor back.
Scapin threw out the same number when another soldier allegedly approached him with Geront, but on the third - Scapin was just starting to pretend the appearance of a whole detachment - Geront leaned out of the bag a little and understood everything. Scapen escaped by force, and then, as luck would have it, Zerbinetta was walking along the street, who could not calm down - such a funny story Scapen told her. She did not know Geronte's face and willingly shared with him the story of how a fellow servant cheated two greedy old men.
Argante and Geronte were complaining to each other about Scapin, when suddenly a woman called out to Geronte - it turned out to be his daughter's old nurse. She told Geront that his second wife - whose existence he was hiding - had long since moved with her daughter from Trento to Naples and died here. Left without any means and not knowing how to find Geront, the nurse gave Hyacinth in marriage to the young man Octave, for which she now asked forgiveness.
Immediately after Hyacinth, Zerbinetta found her father: the gypsies, to whom Leander took the ransom for her, said that they had kidnapped her four-year-old from noble parents; they also gave the boy a bracelet with which his family could identify Zerbinetta. One glance at this bracelet was enough for Argant to be sure that Zerbinetta was his daughter. Everyone was incredibly happy, and only the rogue-Scapena faced a cruel reprisal.
But then Scapin's friend came running with the news of the accident: poor Scapin was walking past the construction site and a hammer fell on his head, piercing through the skull. When the bandaged Scapena was brought in, he diligently posed as a dying person and prayed to Argant and Geront to forgive all the evil they had done before dying. He was, of course, forgiven. However, as soon as everyone was called to the table, Scapin changed his mind about dying and joined the festive meal.