Act 2. Scene 1. A street
Enter Fernando and Fabian
Fernando. Ha, no? Did I- did she- Ha? Wondrously wonderful!
Fernando. Ha? Someone speaks.
Fernando. I'll mumble awhile and go.
Fabian. Your master is wondrously distracted.
Giraldo. I believe so, sir, but I have ceased to wonder at his wondering wanderings.
Giraldo. It seems to be his habitual manner after escaping away from any damsel's chamber.
Fabian. Is it so? I wish my nephew's friend would be more reservedly discreet in the Spanish fashion after his adventures.
Giraldo. I have often tried to convince him of that, but he leads himself alone by the rope of his proper self.
Fabian. So, sir, we hear Cardenio is away to your father's court.
Fernando. Ha! Is it come to this? Devils, monsters in morning gloom or evening cheer!
Giraldo. I told you, sir.
Fabian. Do you heed, Fernando? Your friend, we hear, left today.
Giraldo. So has my master, no one knows where.
Fabian. My lord?
Fernando. Yes, sir, the news with you?
Fabian. I believe so, sir.
Fernando. You are right, sir, I always say the same.
Fabian. Hear him, Giraldo. By not stirring the ladle of understanding, his pot is boiling over.
Fernando. To have enjoyed her, to have given- what?
All that at present I can boast my own,
With each reversion of the world we know,
Had its inheritance been mine: and now-
Just doom of guilty joys!- I grieve as much
As if I rifled stores of loveliness,
The charms of innocence and artless love,
Just as before I was devoured with wants
Because she spurned my vows, and shut all doors
Against the thunders of her Jupiter.
Fabian. Yes, downright love, more obviously than most!
We often see the foolishness of that.
Fernando. Now then to darker pits of recollection!
Was it not so? A promise first of marriage, bound with the surety of a thousand vows, not the lighter ones, as usual, yet I remember, those could not prevail. The unpracticed maiden trembled. How did I choose to relieve Mars' loins tormented? Saved by rape alone! But because I snatched the imperfect joy, all forms of memory torment me worse than I was before. Not love, but brutal violence prevailed, to which time and place cohered dishonourably. Shame, shame!
Fabian. What a pedlar's pack of sorrows this is! I fancy servants should help to discharge him.
Fernando. Hold, let me be more severe against myself, not unjust.- Was it a rape?- You laugh, Giraldo.
Giraldo. I never can, sir.
Fernando. I hear the dreaded laughter of men's thoughts.
As in the past, shrieks and exclamations would certainly have repulsed my lusts.- True, Giraldo, I hear you well, at no time did Violante consent, but neither did she resist. In silence all! Is it the coyness of a surprised virgin or the terrible resentment of the ravished? Is a man yet born who would not risk the guilt, to meet that joy?- The guilt! True, but then recall the dangers of the hour, the invisible tears, the silent clamors of a ruined maiden, pursuing me to bed and night. Those, those, I fear, as it already does my conscience, those will shatter the pretense of my honor. What is to be done? I have no choice. Luscinda reigns confesssed as the tyrant queen of my revolted heart, and Violante seems the brief usurper. By my arts, Cardenio is removed.- Friendship, how will you answer that? That a man can reason down fevers of the blood, or sooth with words the anguish in his heart! Then, Cardenio, I might be, indeed, your friend. They only should condemn me, who, devoid of passion, never have tried disputes between virtue and desire. But those who have as I
The loose escapes of youthful nature known,
Must blink at mine, indulgent to their own.
Giraldo. You are rhyming mad and therefore mischievous. I pray you, master, follow me, but distantly, fearing, I hope, to strike at any time your poor servant's caboche.
Exeunt Fernando and Giraldo
Act 2. Scene 2. Violante's house
Enter Violante and Ancianida
Violante. Whom will I look on without gushing blood?
No eye of honor with a virgin gaze
Will fail to find my guilt. What nimble speech
Of protest will avail me in my house
To say I was not willing? Winks and smirks,
The condemnation of the wise, no hope,
Except to publish my dishonor, wound
My fame anew.- O miseries untold!
If told, more awful than the wrenching thighs,
The blubbered lips, the hairy breath on them.
To seem like all our neighbors: virtuous! Yet
To know it is not so and never will be so.
Ancianida. Forget all, madam.
Violante. Do you behold this blood?
Ancianida. Hide it, clean it away.
Violante. What should I do? Which altar should I pray
On? Man's? The god we love and worship hates.
Ancianida. What a to-do for opening what would have popped open in any case!
Violante. Should I pursue or stay? Both I abhor
To think of in my state.
Ancianida. Rest quietly to sleep and then forget.
Violante. I hate you, Ancianida.
Ancianida. Never say so. I bleed worse than you do on hearing that.
Violante. Hate, hate, hate, hate you.
Violante. I vehemently do, but mostly I
Detest myself for living on this day.
Ancianida. Madam, here hastes Giraldo, to bring you Fernando's letter, I expect.
Violante. A letter for me! How I tremble now!
Yes, woman, quaver for your man again.-
Your lord's for court, Giraldo?
Giraldo. No, madam.
Violante. O my presaging heart! Where is he, then?
Giraldo. His business veers him to some other course.
Violante. But where, I pray?- How fears torment my love
Giraldo. A two month's journey in his future state.
Violante. Where, where? Where is he now? Not gone so soon?-
Blessed virgins, I lack patience to keep feet
Down on this floor, but rather jump away.-
Did he deliberate? Or did the task
Conceive as soon as it was bedded down?
Giraldo. Madam, I do not know, nor is it part of my orders to await your answer. I recommend the letter as your morning piece of entertainment.
Ancianida. Have you ever set eyes on such a slave?
Violante. To hearts like mine suspense is misery.
Wax, render up his trust: may these contents
Be prosperous or fatal. One or both
Are thoroughly my due.
"Prudence should teach what indiscretion commits. I have already stepped towards this show of wisdom by prevailing on myself to bid you forever farewell."
O, wretched and betrayed! Lost Violante!
Heart-wounded with a thousand perjured vows,
With studied language poisoned, given up
To desperation. I am now become
The tomb of my own honor, dark enough
For death alone to dwell in. I invite
Consuming desolation to my house,
Bequeated for your spoil: the fabric ruined,
Which cannot be repaired, at once put down.
What should I do?- But that's not worth my thought:
I will commend to hazard all the time
That I can spend hereafter. Farewell, dad,
Whom I'll no more offend, farewell, all men,
Whom I'll no more believe, and last of all
Adieu, all honorable women here,
Whom I'll no longer shame. The way I go
I never know. May sorrow be my guide.
Exeunt Violante and Ancianida
Act 2. Scene 3. Before Bernardo's house
Enter Fernando and Giraldo
Fernando. Where are the eyes, the voice, the charms of gait,
Each beauteous particle, each nameless grace,
The parents of a new-created love?
All these in Violante, it would seem,
Were not, except as a disease in me,
Who fancied graces in her. When a man
Never beholds more than a hawthorn, he
Says cedars are tall trees, and scorns the shade
That a once loved bush lent him. Hold awhile.
Pale honor sickens in reflections of
My blackest pool. How is opinion safe
If I pursue Luscinda as my whore?
Giraldo. Again accumulating injuries
Such as a dizzy world has rarely seen.
Fernando. To Violante first, or else Cardenio,
To her a perjured wretch, to him a cheat,
And to myself a casual murderer
Of my own self, or what I fancy so,
Without whose image of renown and truth
My dog's the creature of a nobler kind.
Giraldo. You will amend no doubt.
Fernando. No, pleasure is too strong for reason's curb,
And conscience sinks quite overpowered still
Beneath perfumes of beauty's languid sweets.
Luscinda, authoress of all my crimes,
Appears, to vindicate my empire. May
She aid to press my choking honor down,
And I am wholly holily her own.
Away! I'll whistle for you when I sin.
Exit Giraldo, enter Bernardo and Luscinda
Bernardo. Fie, my loved lord, why do you wait outside?
If you suspect your welcome, I have brought
Luscinda to assure you of it now.
Fernando. A kiss, as sweet as odors of the spring,
But cold as dews that dwell on morning buds!
Luscinda, has your father conquered you?
Can duty then at last obtain the prize
When you refuse to love? Will your meek slave
Obtain his gladness with Bernardo's choice?
Ah, no. I read my ruin in your eyes:
That sorrow, cloudier than a thousand storms,
Commands me to seek shelter hurriedly
In leeky rotted cabins of despair.
Bernardo. Luscinda, only daughter, dear to life,
You are not now to learn this noble lord-
Whom but to name restores my failing age-
Has with a lover's eye beheld your grace,
Through which his heart speaks more than poets can,
Which offers joy and happiness to you
With honor to our house. Imagine then
The birth and qualities of such a man
Already recognized, whom none can rate
Too cheap for you.
Luscinda. My father, on my rough knee I beseech
You to pause but one moment in our house
Before you quite achieve your daughter's end.
My heart bleeds tears when once considering
All kindly tendernesses, yet distrust
What is still left behind. Consider here
Whoever must occasion others' fault
Cannot be innocent. Do not yield to
The world of censure a way to reproach
Your sudden whims, or to my charge lay what
I hourly fear, the sin of cuckoldry.
Bernardo. I pray you, fear neither marriage nor the other. I tell you, wench, in love there's always more fear than danger. For my part, as soon as you are married to this lord, my own anxieties will be over, except, when you are gone, the overseeing of my kitchen.
Luscinda. Sir, I should be the vainest sexless thing
Once to esteem myself the worthy aim
Of crowning ducal honor. In my youth,
When but to hear Fernando's swelling vows,
I would subdue my inexperienced fears
To make me wholly his. That past is smoke,
And my firm-plighted faith by your consent
Was long since given to Cardenio's love.
Bernardo. My consent I take away again. Like a simplet, you have yielded your affections to a fellow who does not care one bean for them, one who has abandoned you for a jaunt at court, one who, I should say, is looking for a place. Time enough to refuse to marry when my face lies in the grass.
Fernando. Just so it seems, my only lovely sweet.
Can your Cardenio feel my passions? No.
His love is man's amusement of an hour,
A brief repose from business or repasts,
The sport of youth and fashion of the age.
Had he but known the hopes, the doubts, the fears,
The loftiest passions of variety
That play the tyrant on my tortured heart,
He never would have left you to pursue
I do not know exactly what or where,
To practice cringes with a slavish rout,
To barter certain blisses for unsure
And fleeting honor.
Luscinda. Opposing whirlwinds, shouldering the tide,
Make fearful billows rise to drown my hopes.
Is it then possible you can forget
What is due to your name and ducal birth,
To friendship's only law, to faith reposed,
To honor in Cardenio's honesty?
O think, my lord, how much Cardenio loves,
Recall his services, his well-tried faith,
This very hour, wherever he may lie.
Your favor is the envy of the court
And secret triumph of his grateful heart.
Cardenio, how securely you most depend
On vows and honorings of a duke's son!
Mistaken youth! This minute filches you
Of all your heart holds dear. Fernando thus
Repays the merits of unhappy hearts.
Fernando. My honor, slumbering, hears the alarm.
I was to blame to parley with you thus:
It shows me to myself, and troubles me.
Bernardo. The wealth, the honor, by this light, the crown, the open way to riches, the horror of denial, by this light, I lose all directions about me, I am slipping; do I see a hole?
Luscinda. I am beginning where you end. I pray
And conjure you, by nature's interest,
By chastest love between yourself and her-
O holy mercies, were she living here!-
Forgive and pity. Sir, remember well
How my loved mother said a thousand times
Her father would have forced her virgin choice,
But when the conflict raged between her love
And duty, she forgot at once she was
A daughter, to pay all her vows to love.
You thought this well. My case is now the same.
You are the father, once too well condemned,
I, what my mother was, but not so happy.
Bernardo. A fool! You tell old stories to undo us. How, you cannot sleep with a man except by precedent, ha? You will be married to one who wants none of you? You will be happy nobody's way but your own, the young girl's modern malady. Do you mark your father? Spare your tongue for your husband's bed, using you hardly to bid you spare what you have a great deal too much of. Go your ways, do you hear? Get ready within two days to be covered by a husband you do not deserve to feed and clean. Do it, or, by your dead mother, you are no acquaintance of mine.
Fernando. Be gentler, almost father.
Luscinda. More woes for woman, circled round with fire:
No side-road to escape but through the flames.
Should I resolve to live, or die instead
With a kind father's blessing on my head?
With other slave-girls, choices are not hard:
But interest, that rules the world, has made
A merchandise of hearts, and virgins now
Must choose as they are bidden, wedding well
When wedding men without esteem or love.
By nobler springs will my affections shove,
Not own a master, but the man I love.
Bernardo. Go your ways, contradiction.- Follow her, my lord, run with her in the very heat. This obstinacy must be combated by importunity as obstinate as it.
Exit Fernando and enter Camillo
My daughter says rightly, Camillo. Her mother was such another, but I do not know what. Two of us courted her at the same time, I remember. She loved neither, but chose me, her father's worst choice, only to spite that surly fool. Now the refusing arts lie on my side.
Camillo. My worthy neighbor, I am much in fortune's favor to find you here alone. I have a request to you.
Bernardo. Name it, neighbor. You see how happy my mood is to grant anyone his wish.
Camillo. I have long held you in singular respect. What I'll now reveal must be the proof of it. You know, sir, I have one son.
Bernardo. I do. What of that?
Camillo. In fortune I am blessed with him. You know what I aim at.
Bernardo. Fairly well.
Camillo. My entire inheritance belongs to Cardenio, now entirely engaged in attendance on our master, the duke. But before he went, he left with me the secret of his heart, the love of your daughter. For your consent, Camillo said, he is as ready for feats as Hercules was. I took one night to think on it, bringing you the happy results, to bind the contract with half my fortune at once, the entire sum on my unwelcome death, and meanwhile my hearty blessing. Ha? What do you say to that, Bernardo?
Bernardo. Surely, neighbor, I admit having heard of this matter.
Camillo. No doubt you have, eh?
Bernardo. I recollect it well.
Camillo. Was it so long ago?
Bernardo. Last Tuesday at the latest.
Camillo. Am I mocked, Bernardo?
Bernardo. Not mocked, Camillo, but love-matters, you know, change in an hour. Time tricks us.
Camillo. Why do you speak of time? I see how this goes. Can a minute take a man by the shoulder, to shake away his honor? Let me tell you, neighbor, either a strong wind or light honesty drops so easily.
Bernardo. Will you put indignation inside your pocket while I tell you the truth of my matter and hers? My daughter, you know, is such a tender wordling that she cannot meet a duke's oldest son and heir without desperately loving him. Now you know, neighbor, when greatness rides after a man of my years, prudence, and breeding, who can prevent my being overtaken by it? I profess, it was not my seeking, neighbor.
Camillo. A fox digs in the hollowness of your heart. Were I to give a bad conscience its true likeness, it would be drawn after a very near neighbor to a certain poor neighbour of yours, with a murrain on the horses carrying your honors and titles.
Bernardo. So nimble with me?
Camillo. If I speak nothing, I hear nothing. If you mean what you say, it is a lie before you speak it. I'll see Luscinda in front of your face, finding out from her whether she lives in the same story. If so, I'll believe your wife was true to you.
Exit into Bernardo's house
Bernardo. Two words before you enter my sad house.
Exit Bernardo following him
Act 2. Scene 4. Before Bernardo's house
Enter Luscinda above and Fabian below
Luscinda. Sst, sir! Are you Cardenio's uncle, sir?
Fabian. I hope I am. Luscinda, I dare think?
Luscinda. Of all that very own unhappy she!
How tediously I wait at balconies,
Yet know no one who passes!- If I trust
My letter to a stranger whom I think
Bears most an honest face, I am undone.
We fancy we are skilled in faces, when
Deception mars our life. Fernando's whim
Lies bleeding in me now, so that each face
Which must reflect some good removes my trust,
His faces promising all truth and love,
Since nature in the noblest forms deceive.
Be fortunate, because you lack his faith.
I see him, though I know he thinks I do
Not. But you are in all Cardenio's, no?
Fabian. I am since childhood.
Luscinda. As you were of a virtuous matron born-
For love is found in love- I conjure you
To grant a single boon to helplessness.
Fabian. I know you and will help you willingly.
Luscinda. I have no time to emphasize my suit
With many words, or rather I lack words
Despite my leisure, but for love of love,
And as you hate all forms of misery-
I wander. Do you know Cardenio's house?
Fabian. The ducal palace, where he waits intructions.
Luscinda. Convey this letter to him. Sir, believe
You do love's service in it, having cause
And motive never to repent your pains.
(Throwing down the letter
Luscinda. I trust you. May love put it in your heart
To assuage our woman-wearied woes.
Fabian. Do not doubt it.
Luscinda. May richer hands than mine requite such boons.
Why, daughter, I am hungrier than I was
When first I sat at table.
Luscinda. I come.