Act 2. Scene 1. The The ducal palace
Enter Thomas and Jacques
Jacques. I say to your unheeding father thus:
"This coupling with Aglaura is a sin,
A horrid flouting, likely to mar you."
Thomas. What does he say to this?
Jacques. Like schoolboys with their moral fathers, sighs,
Yawns, and says nothing.
Thomas. You do not press enough.
Jacques. On peril of my life, I urge him that
Adulterous loves meet with the wrath of Christ,
That thunder strikes down aftermaths of sin.
He grins and chortles very mournfully,
Calls me a gargoyled fool, who does not know
The world except in churches, swears he will
Give my life over to the executioner
If I proceed to halt his pleasure's course.
The tides of passion overflow the buoy
Of reason he once held.
Thomas. Is there no way for dukes to be thus great
Except in evil? Must a subject's wrong
Become the cushions on which they arise?
It makes me grind the teeth to see myself
Subjected to a lusty father's will.
Jacques. Ah, who would not say so? A future duke
Submit to wrongs? Most dangerous to him
And to his dukedom, teaching men a way
To plot into his life!
Thomas. No quarry for his freezing lust but she
Whom I dig up to me? Were he not duke,
But a mere father, I dread what revenge
Should come to tarnish and assault his life.
Jacques. A duke? Come, what of that? Must titles, that
Make fools bend, crush you flat? You are the duke
If such a father plays the tyrant here.
Jacques. And yet all this for woman.
Thomas. Aglaura? Not a woman but a house
To enter in as man, the rest I laugh
Jacques. So. Granted she is more than women are,
Must we destroy ourselves because of them,
Play lambs to her all-wolf, our sighs and groans
Like food to her, to make her strut above
Her fellows? All our troubles vanity
Creates as pleasure, never to curtail
Her drift, though loving subjects grieving pale,
Great in her scorn of us and frippery?
Jacques. By speaking treason.
Thomas. Who speaks of treason?
Thomas. I do. I speak of fathers and what sons
Do to restrain their power.
Jacques. All this proceeds from the excessive love
I bear your lordhip.
Thomas. What of the exclamations that will make
France wither if the pressing vice of worse
Than civil battles be proclaimed in France?
Jacques. Your optic glasses like Venetians' can
Reach far ahead.
Thomas. Still for Aglaura, what may I not do?
Jacques. Not frown when men beat you.
Thomas. The noblest sight, the bravest, nature lent
To mortal eyes!
Jacques. No known philosopher disputes on this.
Thomas. All other women are her excrement.
Jacques. My promised one, my sister, too!
Thomas. Most men say so.
Jacques. Apollo's truest prophets in this case.
Thomas. Have you brought forth his potent enemies?
Jacques. I have.
Thomas. Within there, ho!
Enter Leveller, Disgruntled, and Chafing
Knights, are you mine?
Leveller. My lord, we kill those who say otherwise.
Disgruntled. Pound and forget them in their very jakes.
Chafing. Then go to church to pray for us and them.
Jacques. Good men.
Thomas. Yet horrid treasons can be dangerous.
Disgruntled. The wrongs you bear swell up so mightily
That we profess our livelihood is yours.
Jacques. The best among the most.
Chafing. We bear worse tidings than you thought about.
Thomas. Quick, quick, relate.
Disgruntled. Your father, my good lord- I cannot speak.
Chafing. Your father-
Thomas. Not sturdy? Not the robust men I seek?
Leveller. Your father, in pretense- thus boldly I
Aver- in pretense of security,
In England fetches for your lordship a
Declining miss, most fit, he says, for you
To act as votary.
Thomas. Ha! Do I live?
Jacques. I once suspected this.
Disgruntled. A much unworthy lady, stooping low
In age, must be life's comfort to fond youth.
I groaned and fainted when I heard the news.
This lady you must woo at once and play
The kneeling fool to age and gravity.
Thomas. Do you know me?
Jacques. We think we do.
Thomas. Do you behold this sword, unsheated for
The villain I call father?
Leveller. In fear, as who does not?
Thomas. A ducal toad in his infected pool!
What should I do as heir to mudded crowns
But to obey and grin?
Jacques. We hope you never can drop off so low.
Thomas. I overrule this father.
Thomas. These base, unreasonable decrees of his
Make drudges faint.
Leveller. I heard him thunder at his table: "To
Obey is best," thus says this kind of duke,
Or die instead inside a convent, a
Most tame, religious fool.
Disgruntled. A nunnery is better.
Thomas. I'll speak my griefs tomorrow. On, brave lords,
Abhorring tyranny, as will be shown!
Exeunt Thomas, Jacques, Leveller, Disgruntled, and Chafing
Act 2. Scene 2. The ducal palace
Enter Orbella and Arnaud
Orbella. They say love is a tyrant. I know not,
Yet to be tyrannized so seems to me
The greatest pleasure a bad world affords.
How great I grow with love! And yet behold,
My husband's brother! Should this be found out,
More stangers will say France but harbors whores.
From Persia I was brought when a poor duke
Negotiated richly for glad Ziriff's cloth.
Both winning with that match, he took me, too,
And therefore is he blamed for cuckoldry.
A brother? What of that? Do innocent
Birds of a gentle sportiveness ask for
Permission of the skies before they mix?
Will some forgotten over-curious law,
Like misty heraldries, moth-eaten, smoked,
By insect troops of time so long anulled,
Prevent us, when remorseless pangs of love
Reveal our acts as fine, prolonging life
With pleasure's might? Do not our faintest springs
Within a gentle garden purling sweet,
Her dulcet cadences between the banks
Of blushing roses, huddle one atop
Each other's course, in clearest pleasure joined?
Then will not humankind, the sovereigns
Of all of these, be bound, restrained, debarred,
Of such clear wanton chasing? Surely,
It is not so. My arguments prove that
You are my own, for nature must applaud
Our fruitfulness in echoes thundering
With life's own quiet force.
Arnaud. Our blessed love-acts pregnant?
Orbella. Big with their power.
Arnaud. Are you alone? Should brothers hear such news-
Orbella. He goes, perhaps into Aglaura's arms.
Arnaud. Neglecting you so horribly? Deserved,
Then, be his fate henceforth!
Orbella. Enough of talk. Unclasp.
Arnaud. I never see you signing thus alone
But I think nature is too cheated by
Orbella. By love's own light, lips should not be abused
By curious bubbles. Let them do instead
What nature calls them for, to kiss and kiss. (kissing him
Arnaud. That's very sudden. I still fear the duke.
Orbella. Not when the moon shines.
Arnaud. You never blush.
Orbella. It ill becomes my hair, to make my face
Seem like a hairy orange.
Arnaud. The world belongs to those who cannot blush.
Orbella. My nurse once taught me that.
Arnaud. All is permitted if we only love.
In prisons damp with straw, with spider webs
As pillows, will such love as ours die off,
Not with Apollo smile with wantoning?
But should the duke discover us, no doubt
He'll blush in ways to make us redder still.
Orbella. I scorn him now.
Arnaud. How little thought of will I seem, when men
Behold my deeds, should I contented lie,
So near a crown. A trifle bars me there.
Orbella. My husband's life, a trifle?
Arnaud. We'll speak of that anon.
Orbella. You now embark on high and dangerous
Seas, tugging breathless on half-splintered oars.
Arnaud. Avoid a moralizing rheum, which makes
Men sweat, no more.
Orbella. Let me but sweat inside your arms, not on
A hangman's block. You are to me what you
Wish for, a realm. Should love press down the scale
Of your ambition with an equal weight,
We'll make our sex compound.
Arnaud. Already it is done: a duke in thought!
You may more justly say those wretches live
When darkly sweating of a midnight plague
As to discourage me from taking what
Is mine by will and effort.
Orbella. Is not my love alone worth all your pains?
Arnaud. I'll take your love together with his death.
If his misdeeds that wear a blessed crown
Be not forgotten, I swear he'll wear none.
If I miss this, let all my senses die,
The pleasures given me, let all be numb
In a worm-hole, or let my fancy's source
Be ravished by my only enemy
While I look on and smile. Remember, love,
How treacherous he always proves to you.
Say that you weep for dukes while finding them
Up to the cheeks with their bright lusty blood,
Remember how, before the marriage torch
Burned out, the flame rose richly, and then stank.
Reflect on these and then reveal yourself
A loyal fool to him. Say so at once
And I will go like schoolboys to their books.
Orbella. False to my husband, or to you? Who wins?
Arnaud. Not that half-sovereign, half-man, all beast?
Let us teach love by signs, not stupid speech,
For action is her native tongue. Come, come,
You are decided, ever mine till death.
Enter Ziriff and Lenu
Orbella. I undertake I know not what.- O, O,
The duke's best friend and servant! What is it?-
Speak, eastern devil, what would you with me?
Arnaud. He answers nothing.
Orbella. He only stares, the more my terror, O.
Arnaud. I would not meddle with him.
Orbella. Too often have I meddled with that slave.
Arnaud. The duke will know my humor on such slaves.
Orbella. He gapes as if he meant to murder half
Arnaud. Are you no duchess? Dare that peasant groom.
I leave you, lady, till we may confer.
Orbella. Will you not speak?- No? No? How heavily
I'm punished for my lightness! Will you not?-
Ha, I shake so. Ha, beggar's dog, speak, speak.-
A duchess chastises where she commands.
I shrink, I droop before mere common muck.
Will you outbrave me?- I must die but once,
One shaking of the glass and farewell pomp!
I must leave you, sir.
Ziriff. I do not know whether a woman's flame
Is like the glomworm's, treacherous and base,
But yet I swear she will not flutter long.
Unfaithful dung-flea! She swore fealty,
Buzzed in my ears I must be great: should I
Crouch low beneath her favors, play the hound
For sweets? Great Lucifer! I am undone.
She seized my heart as mongrel-bitches bones,
Devoid of nerve and blood. Must I drop off?
If so, I'll fall on her. Remembered here!
A jewelled mole, an underground false trunk
With conterfeited money in each box!
Does she believe I cannot stamp and rave?
I can be angry, very angry. Thus,
I'll be myself.
Lenu. The more our danger.
Arnaud. Love is a pleasant trifle, but the way
I'll henceforth love and sigh is murderous.
No more the love-sick fool for satisfaction!
To chide and argue is a woman's war:
Exeunt Ziriff and Lenu
Act 2. Scene 3. The The ducal palace
Enter the duke and Arnaud
Duke. It is not so! My son?
Arnaud. My nephew, Thomas.
Duke. What did he say?
Arnaud. He said he means to murder you tonight.
Duke. Ha! Can I pity such a son? I will, I will,
Like eagles when they swoop.
Arnaud. It is fit pity here should yawn and sleep,
While even-handed justice rouses still.
Duke. Let me hear voices of his treachery,
And I will have no son.
Arnaud. Here is our faithful servant and our friend,
Moreover lover of our country's weal,
Who ably has discovered everything.
Duke. Will I turn round the head when treachery
Foments against my rest? Although he wears
A son's face, snap at him. Reveal your tale,
Most loyal Jacques: are we fortunate
In a discovery of treachery?
Say so, to be rewarded.
Jacques. Your Thomas is a hideous villain in
His thoughts- O, were it otherwise! Let not
His villainy transform itself to deeds,
Though an heir and the people's love, for them
Perhaps a potentate of rare renown
And grace. Such virtues must not be the key
That turns against our lives. Let it not be
In after-times said of our dukedom's head:
"A great duke, brave, magnanimous, and true,
A lover of his people and a man
Of form, to baser mettle the straight glass
Of statecraft and true-born gentility,
But how we wish he never had a son!
For, in his case, the great duke proved himself
A potent ass."
Arnaud. Hold, slave.
Duke. Let be. On, on!
Jacques. Thus says posterity: "In sorry cheer,
The duke moped, in dank pity of his son
He failed to punish hard, though threatening
His head, but slept, till he awoke no more."
Duke. What an unhappy thing it is to be
A kindly father! Fearfully to gaze,
And, after gazing, sink. O, never now!
May black corruption gnaw my limbs and heart
Before I pity such a forward son.
I say this poison of my making must
Be cut away before he takes the head.
Arnaud. Most certain.
Duke. How potent is their faction?
Jacques. Quite weak, considering their purposes.
In numbers few, yet strong in dark intents,
A band of resolutes, who come on through
Although their father's head stood in the bill
Of utmost danger.
Duke. I'll crush them.
Arnaud. It must be so. Weep as you strike to death.
Jacques. A troop designed to suffer executions,
Unless they come to it.
Duke. How weary seem they of their puny lives!
Do they not know a duke? All treacheries
Last but an hour, flat underneath the heel
As soon as seen in corners. Messenger,
The loyal Ziriff must be told of this,
News apt to make him sweat in services
Towards our love and state.
Arnaud. You love him well.
Duke. Now almost as a son, whom I have not,
After these clouds of slaughter drift away.
Will my son enter in this room tonight?
Jacques. Like night itself.
Duke. Ten burning candles will I hold up when
I murder him.
Exeunt the duke, Arnaud, and Jacques
Act 2. Scene 4. Ziriff's house
Enter Aglaura and Jacqueline
Aglaura. I wonder why my Thomas is not here.
Jacqueline. Perhaps the hornet frets when doubting much
To see his nest too often occupied.
Aglaura. He has no reason to. From this time forth,
One finger on the duke's love! I will lie
With Thomas in a cell of sweetness, ours
Eternally, a husband with his wife.
Jacqueline. A woman cheated of her pleasure is
Much angrier than a tigress with her meat.
Aglaura. When I think of Thomas next to the old duke, I must with difficulty not yield up entirely my meals of the day.
Jacqueline. Rightly so.
Aglaura. Thomas is greenwood, burning slow but comfortably, whereas the old duke is dry, fast up fast down. How Thomas fills me up and down, so that, to prevent detection in his room, I am sorely constrained to stuff a handkerchief inside my mouth! Thomas is my pump, yielding streams vigorous and sure into every receptacle, the old duke a half-forgotten well, hidden in herbage of an ill-watered garden, or the statue of ancient Priapus, half-lame, whose main member is by none-sparing time almost eaten away, eroded of any beauty or use.
Jacqueline. But yet consider how your brother wins
With commerce of this duke.
Aglaura. I know we owe this house to him, but yet
How tragic is it to reflect the pains
And sacrifices women undertake
For riches yielding our unhappiness!
How man builds fortunes on a woman's back!
Should we always keep quiet, read love-books
While never loving?
Jacqueline. He is a brother.
Aglaura. Do I sleep with brothers? Enough talk of a decrepit duke! I swear the subject puts me out of temper, out of all possible attempts at politeness or good humor.
Jacqueline. Ho! Who is there? A stranger, I believe!
Aglaura. Ha? Who are you?
Disgruntled. Your husband's friend.
Aglaura. Will he arrive?
Disgruntled. No, not tonight.
Aglaura. I thought so.
Disgruntled. Yet you may learn from me some news of him.
Aglaura. Go, Jacqueline, I am quite safe, I think.
Jacqueline. I pray so, madam.
Aglaura. Your story?
Disgruntled. I heard the voice of Thomas say: "Go to my father's palace, learn what you can from spies inside, because I hear evil of that place, which I'll correct."
Aglaura. What kind of evil?
Disgruntled. How his father intends to marry him to an English duchess' daughter.
Aglaura. Ha! We are already married.
Disgruntled. News unknown to the duke. Yet, instead of duty, I attended first to joyful songs at a tavern, next I reeled to my brother' house to play chess, then with an acquaintance to a brothel, completely neglecting my summons.
Aglaura. Are you his friend?
Disgruntled. Which man does not err at one time or another? I embarked on a ferry on my way to the palace when a great wind rose. The mariners, startled and afraid, slipped from their ropes, ran about the boat confusedly, expecting us to be split by the next sign of liquid thunder.
Aglaura. What of the captain?
Disgruntled. He confidently advanced towards me with trembling voice and horror palely painted on every lineament: "We may not live unless casting away merchandise or persons. You must be hauled off."
Disgruntled. The mariners, glad of some action, seized my shoulders and thighs, I, fighting and shouting, to no avail, so that, whether willing or not, they threw me overboard.
Aglaura. I know such slaves.
Disgruntled. I tiredly swam for an hour or better towards the shore, fighting against heaving liquid rock, not waves, till I fainted awhile nearby sharpest boulders, cutting me in front and behind, then recognized afar this house, loved by Thomas for one within, like a whale swallowing me.
Aglaura. O, lord, I should diet.
Disgruntled. Let me stay no longer than this night, not inside your house, too uncomely a suggestion, but sleeping in your garden, inside a tent or secure grotto, before going next morning on my rightful way towards the ducal palace.
Aglaura. A friend to Thomas? You are welcome, friend.
Exeunt Aglaura and Disgruntled