Collaborative play writing/Aglaura/Act 1

Act 1. Scene 1. The The ducal palace

Enter Jacques and Jacqueline

Jacques. How, married! Do they sprout oak-leaves around

Their pates, secure from thunder?

Jacqueline. My own ears heard the curate bless the bond.

Jacques. O, murderous! Unprecedented scenes

Of death must follow.

Jacqueline. What thoughts make you so pale?

Jacques. What else but marriage, love's most fatal word

In any lexicon?

Jacqueline. On the church porch at Denis they stole that

Most happy of unhappy hours.

Jacques. I fear for them, perhaps for us far more.

Jacqueline. How, beard a duke, to sleep in peace? It must

Not be, or ever will. Before his eyes

Will they retire and huddle, rise to fall

And rise again, as if a nobleman

Sleeps while his subjects threaten?

Jacques. Is there a difference between their sex?

Are they of flesh and blood? O, Jacqueline,

This very night the lovers jump to it.

Jacqueline. Yes, but the duke, good brother!

Jacques. But lust, fair sister!

Jacqueline. O, very fine! We'll suffer, should we not,

For all their pleasures? You will not, I pray,

Breathe one fragmented letter of this tale.

Jacques. Drowned lips are not more certain.

Jacqueline. The frailty of our sexes!

Jacques. It must come out, like pus; our nature's so.

Enter Sementhe

Sementhe, my love's hope! Speak carelessly

Or not at all: should we be at it, girl?

Exit Sementhe

Ha, gone already? Misery of love,

When those we cherish shun our happy face!

Jacqueline. Ha? Do you weep?

Jacques. She with whom I have often dreamt about,

Still blushing in the folds of rose-leaves, still

Each evening careless of the time, our forms

A resting place of drowsy butterflies,

The idle nest of woodland choristers,

She, ingrate, our most tender passions mock.

Jacqueline. Love's gashes always fester in her heart.

Jacques. That would-be duke! Pah!

Jacqueline. A weighty one, to press us all to death

Unless we watch and serve.

Jacques. He can kill me, no worse.

Jacqueline. Not yet, I pray.

Jacques. The embryo-duke in glories hiding mine,

Like cloths of gold on diamonds! Should he fold

My love, I will undress him: desert shrubs

Will seem far greener when this knife cleaves him.

They say that time is a physician: I

Will prove he is a gravedigger as well.

Jacqueline. I see ahead the duke arrives.

Jacques. Our place to better.

Exeunt Jacques and Jacqueline

Act 1. Scene 2. The The ducal palace

Enter Ziriff and Lenu

Ziriff. Well, is the son near?

Lenu. The duke awaits him.

Ziriff. Wayward boy! Why should I befriend Thomas, dreaming of his father's death, or any man?

Lenu. Do you not pocket silver pieces from him?

Ziriff. I do, but what of that? I hate no less.

No man is yet acquainted with his thoughts,

Or mine as yet.

Lenu. When devils pay their servants, they are worth

The price of hell.

Ziriff. I loathe his manners almost as much as

I do my own.

Lenu. When wars struck our state with open-mouthed cannons, you were proven to be a general of resource and power, mounting ranks against oppressors, lifting declining files, refreshing shooting-pieces, speaking thunder against thunder, clasping last of all the war's garland as a first apprenticeship.

Ziriff. A knave must be precocious.

Lenu. Next, like a knight of ancient gallantries,

You caught at tilting our duke's favor. Ha,

A wondrous boldness!

Ziriff. Court-parasites whisper my name as if I were vermin to be rid of from the all-sheltering bark and leaves.

Lenu. Yet how effiminately you play the court wanton, simpering for his grace's truncheon, lisping sweet examples into his enchanted ear, playing music in his bed-chamber, a nightingale in satin!

Ziriff. Incredible deformities, but well accepted by the duke!

Lenu. Lords complain that you possess the vices of both sexes: brutish, insolent, and braving on one side, plaguy tearful, wanton, and secretive on the other.

Ziriff. Behold me well: both man and woman, possessing in my large bosom deep-seated treacheries specific in either.

Lenu. I'll cry mum to that, lest my teeth be blasted.

Ziriff. Greatness, what fools you make of us!

Lenu. Or maybe fools, what greatness makes of me!

Ziriff. I, creeping shadow of a prince's dream,

What am I? Atom, or true puissance?

When first I fed on his large dishes, he,

The satin-jack, first flouted me and spurned.

O, harshness of tame manhood! It prevents

His murder. Dull and foolish-base would my

State be should present handsomeness become

No sport to royalty! In wintry nights

Have I, attending on the duke's and son's

High profligacies, caperings, and jests,

Crept into greatness' favor. Will I pine,

Drop off the ducal plant when most it needs

Some gentle watering? Three winter years,

Like busy chemists, have I blown dead coals

Till my lungs ache, and must my stinking-pot

Be the reward of effort? Never! Winds:

I will not be your thin companion, night:

I will neglect you as my minion. Force

Is my elixir, with this bowl I crown

You mine, so will this trifling buzzing court

Shrink at the very sounding of my name,

Dull prisoners of all my glassy whims.

I must possess her. Sleep, my sorrows, sleep,

No longer lie between these puffy lids.

Instead, awake in other men's eyes, you

Are not as yet my ghost.- The duke arrives,

And father held in chains! There let him rest.

Enter the duke, Aglaura, and Paul, Campastes bound in chains

Duke. I say he will not live.

Paul. Good brother, as I know you are, or else

So you may one day be, some pity here!

Duke. The man you see is dead, a traitor caught,

Nursed in our court to find revengeful fangs

Fixed at his heart. Let no one be so bold

As plead for him. Should we gloss errors, what

Would then become of France and justice? Ruth

Is murderous. It is a sin to spare

A man plucked by the elbow with his coat

Lined with state-papers. Out with him to death!

No love or pity in our government

To harm the innocent! See it well done.

Ziriff. My lord-

Duke. Although his son, lose no breath pleading here.

He dies, and quickly.

Aglaura. My lord-

Duke. No breath, Aglaura. He is now no man,

Or father, but the axeman's.

Ziriff. This wrings some tears from me.

Duke. Tears for him, too, Aglaura?

Aglaura. My graceful lord, not so. I love the state

Too well to pardon such a man of grief

And darkness from the justest doom of all.

Paul. Ha? From his daughter?

Campastes. Can any father, sparing for his child,

Behold her stainless faces with no tear?

Aglaura, have I ever stabbed to death

Your hidden lovers, made a mince-pie of

A friend long-loved, destroyed and cut your hopes

With blasting of your maiden fruit, that you

Should stamp aground the withering leaf to

His final place? My daughter- not so here-

My former daughter, do not mar my cheeks

With fire and dirt. Do not. Ah, ah, do not.

Duke. These tears will not wear out or warp your rope.

Campastes. Ah, no more words for me, your counsellor?

Duke. Pitch him away. Let him be carted, flogged,

And hanged, to our declining subjects worth

Instruction on a traitor's theater.

Aglaura. It must be done, my lords. Away with him!

Lenu. Come, this way to your rest.

Exeunt Paul, Ziriff, Lenu, and Campastes

Duke. So early and so curiously enrobed,

Nice lady? These fair patterns, cool-reserved,

So luscious, big with love, are snares for hearts

In love with beauty. To be trussed up so

Looks like a set design. Say, mistress, speak,

Is it a massacre in full resolved?

Is conquest of a duke grown tediously

Base to allurements? Is a titled crown

So little worth that you must casually

Destroy us all in whitest witchery?

Aglaura. If women did so little mischief, duke,

Large hell would not be stuffed with men, nor would

Remorseless critics rail our active sex

As often as they do.

(Sounds of whipping and cries within

Duke. Ha, what is that?

Aglaura. A father cringing underneath the lash.

Duke. A daughter dutiful, so far above

Your kind, all-loving to our ducal state!

Aglaura. In faults, I should confess.

Duke. Such gentle rapes your beauty works on love,

And with such pleasing violence force love still,

Before allured sense, that he, undone,

Pleased to be so, now hurries pantingly

To death's enshrouded house his weary self,

As if in haste to be quite overthrown.

Is such a winless loss your victory?

Must we die to obtain your promised bliss?

I will try that.- Our watchful queen and son!

Enter Orbella and Thomas

Orbella. A package for your grace!

Duke. So. What is it?

Thomas. A picture, I deduce.

Duke. Ha, beauteous, far beyond example's reach!

Aglaura. Ah, no!

Thomas. Ah, better: heaven's image!

Aglaura. No.

Duke. Our tastes meet in one place. I should watch that.

Orbella. Is is so lovely? May I see at last?

Duke. No.

Thomas. May I not keep the portal of my bliss?

Duke. No.

Thomas. I will, nevertheless.

Duke. I see you must be tamed. (striking him

Thomas. Regret will suffer.

Exit Thomas

Orbella. What madness is this now?

Exit the duke

You are too beautiful today: such sights

Disorganize if not dismay weak man.

Aglaura. Most happy if not pleasing overmuch!

Exit Aglaura and re-enter Ziriff, kissing Orbella

Orbella. How glad I am to be of age to please!

Ziriff. No doubt you do, when beauty shines on you

With her most precious glass. A devil's hand

Could never mark so white an outside.

Orbella. Nor Persian ones.

Ziriff. I am a Persian when it pleases me

To be so, otherwise your lover and

Man's constant fear.

Orbella. You please me better than a husband, but

Some say you please my spouse in the same way.

Ziriff. More calumnies of court-tongues.

Orbella. Tonight, my Ziriff.

Ziriff. I will not fail. Ha! Ha!

Exit Orbella and enter Arnaud

Arnaud. The father being bound for stripes, do I

Hear laughter from the son?

Ziriff. Know, Arnaud, Persians do not weep unless

You tickle us.

Arnaud. Avaunt with merriment when statesmen bleed!

Exit Ziriff and enter Jacques

How odd a thing are crowds to such as I,

Though shining with some royalty, most base

And paltry! Nature meant I gape alone.

Had not that doting midwife in whose hands

My brother shrieked had hands too capable,

Tormenting me forever with his sight,

I would have been. Ah, death! To be born near,

But only near a crown!

Jacques. What grieves you here, my lord? What, fruitlessly

To sigh and groan atop a pyramid?

There is another way.

Arnaud. My brother is up, then his son comes next.

Jacques. You know his Thomas never loved you well.

Arnaud. Too well his Thomas never loved me well.

Jacques. Some say he loathes his uncle.

Arnaud. I loathe him, too.

Jacques. Hum, excellent! He lies so near the crown.

Arnaud. Too near.

Jacques. He has defied your brother.

Arnaud. How?

Jacques. By marrying his mistress.

Arnaud. Aglaura?

Jacques. Aglaura, watchful lord. Was that not bold?

Arnaud. O, very bold, and yet I'm glad of it.

Jacques. He is not yet a duke.

Arnaud. Not till the other dies. Does he not have

Dark thoughts, dark dreams, dark enemies of state?

Jacques. He does, I think, since who does not?

Arnaud. Bring all his enemies to me. Do it.

Jacques. My lord, I will.

Arnaud. What if I fail? Ha! Ha! I strike, they fall.

Success is promised. Not a surety?

Does the sun rise tomorrow?

Jacques. Should we be often folded thus, my lord,

The letters of our deeds would grow too big.

Arnaud. And this? The picture of the careless duke?

Jacques. The shape is quite familiar.

Arnaud. Aglaura!

Jacques. Indeed, she for whom a duke starves.

Arnaud. Ha, one step higher! It is not, good friend,

With the ascending to a mighty crown

As it is with the equidistant marks

Of staircases, most evenly the same

Up to the gilded rooftop, for to crowns

Each sharp, rough-hewn degree is varied, hard,

Uneven, treacherous, and slippery.

The slightest hesitation murders. I

Will make a snare of love, Aglaura's hair

As pillow to my brother and his son,

To hide the pit beneath. Court entrances

And passage-ways, dim chambers I must rule,

To make men drop and die: so will I be,

Or else not be at all.

Exeunt Arnaud and Jacques

Act 1. Scene 3. Ziriff's house

Enter Aglaura and Jacqueline

Aglaura. Ah, tired, yet I cannot sleep. Ah, ah!

Yawns hurt my face. Is it not late as yet?

Jacqueline. Quite late.

Aglaura. I know it is, you need not have said so.

Ah, brazen face, it was the longest day.

Jacqueline. It is not every day a woman finds

Her father executed.

Aglaura. Ha! I remember now, yet let us not

Reflect on that tonight. Unless I err,

The night will be more memorable yet.

Jacqueline. Why, madam?

Aglaura. My love stalks forth.

Jacqueline. How? In a house of mourning?

Aglaura. A slave is tedious. Will a father's law,

As I have often said and you perceived,

Restrain a daughter's pleasure? Never, girl,

You need not be a slave to think so ill

Of me. Besides, he's dead, is that not so?

I have your word on that.

Jacqueline. Both dead and buried, madam.

Aglaura. So, no more on that theme.

Jacqueline. Should I prepare the bed?

Aglaura. I will prepare the bed myself. Hide, shade:

My sun approaches.

Jacqueline. I'm gone already.

Exit Jacqueline and enter Thomas

Thomas. Come, let us grapple, love. The sleeping night

Is simple, skipping off so hurriedly

With her thin blanket when the enemy,

The prying dawn, winks on her naked shame

To make the heavens blush.

Aglaura. We must not be seen, otherwise I weep.

Thomas. The stars will weep all night long, mightily

Bound to their canopies, because they

Cannot do what we do.

Aglaura. You warm me well.

Thomas. Like death I come, while grooms and courtly ants

Inside their chambers fart and snore.- A kiss!

Aglaura. Ah! Sudden pleasures overflow the brim.

How wisely do forbidding stars restrain

And season pleasures with a pinch of dread,

Which otherwise would mar our appetite

With too much sweetness! Dear love and my own!

Thomas. For such love what death-passages I may

Not pass? Here lie bright heaven's promises:

I do not care for others. Let the world

Into one compact point contract

All its known beauties- pah! compared to yours-

A form like newer white!- they shine like mud.

Here lie its riches, which I enter here,

To bore like worms into forbidden fruit.

Aglaura. You need not pierce, my love, when a wide breach

Already may be seen. Alas, alas,

On innocence a man will triumph still,

For you obtain each night no less than all.

Thomas. Undo, undo. Your starry bed is like

The center-point of bliss. Be the rewards

Of man's ambitious frettings in the world

Never so near, they cannot overarch

The radius of our loves, from whose sharp point

Our pleasures radiate.- What sounds are these?

Only a devil dares to interrupt

A lovers' scene.

Re-enter Jacqueline

Jacqueline. Your brother, madam!

Thomas. Ha, Ziriff! If I know him well, quite lost


Aglaura. Ah, love, we must part now.

Thomas. He has searched out our loves.

Aglaura. Be bold with him. What should a woman do

With brothers? Out with him!

Exeunt Aglaura and Jacqueline, enter Ziriff

Ziriff. Ha, friend, you start so, as if shaking hands

With someone in a horrid compact.

Thomas. What is your wish, half-man?

Ziriff. I can be angry. News I have for you.

Thomas. Lift up your veil.

Ziriff. The duke must have her.

Thomas. Aglaura? How?

Ziriff. I do not care how, but he must have her now.

Thomas. Death on your lips! I dreamt that she was mine.

On pale imagination's golden peak

Do weary varlets clamber till they freeze

Beside their pleasure. Then to plummet down

To the black base! Put me to sleep again,

Or let me die. May courteous hands snatch me

For what must come, for I espy below,

In contemplation's glass, not much of worth.

Ziriff. To sink in feathers of trim vanity?

Thomas. Enough! I cannot speak, my misery

To such a pitch that I am crushed in shades.

Here is my utmost reach of sail, the hulk

Against rocks splintering.

Ziriff. Yield me my sister.

Thomas. As willingly as virgins when sent off

To bridegrooms never asked for, so will she,

To nature's wayward fancy, not her own.

Ziriff. Both with such sweetly pleasant faces, too!

Thomas. In how much worse a state am I now than

If never I had of a woman known!

Teach me how to forget her in an hour,

Win me again to life. Do fathers raise

Us but to steal our women? Copulation

Done, let the green fruits drop as mush in their

Stink-pot. Can we not do at sixteen what

He does at fifty? I defy with grief

The buried tinder, old men lusting like

A sickly flamelet in December snow.

Ziriff. He'll have her, youth.

Thomas. I'll get her, sir.

Ziriff. I have not seen a man so crutchless slow

Since your obeying brother left the house

To marry gladly with his father's will.

Not done with puling yet?

Re-enter Aglaura and Jacqueline

Thomas. Take her.

Aglaura. How! To the duke?

Ziriff. Good sister, do not start on fortune's whim,

Since nicer women go the way you do,

And yet they thrive.

Aglaura. I'll follow. House affairs I must attend

Before I see my misery, to wring

One minute from my utmost proof of weal

And constancy.

Exeunt Thomas and Ziriff

Jacqueline. How, weeping still? Look to your face tonight.

This dream of love's a trifle.

Aglaura. You quite mistake me, slave: I weep for joy.

This paltry service to his dukedom will

Not hide my Thomas from my sensual light.

Although a duke's estate still keeps me warm,

With joyance I can live, defying all.

Exeunt Aglaura and Jacqueline