Collaborative play writing/French chronicles of the 1590s/Act 1

Act 1. Scene 1. A street in Paris. 1590

Enter Maxime and Louise

Maxime. Yet another laborer banished to the city, egg-less, as few weasels are.

Louise. From country dirt to city dust, filthier by far.

Maxime. What is bulging from your apron pocket?

Louise. Two clenched fists.

Maxime. Ha, very unfortunate! I was hoping for some rotten roots left from last night.

Louise. Nothing but lint to clean our teeth with.

Maxime. Inspect surgically inside my mouth without choking from the fumes if you can: teeth like newly bloomed lillies for cleanness, fed, unlike Yaweh's children, with hopes, not food.

Louise. Because of our misfortunes, we save on dental fees.

Maxime. For the famished famine-soup, or broth enriched with hide of dogs, cats, asses, horses, even rats captured in cellars where we sleep, together with- this should be whispered secretly- bones of our own dead children.

Louise. For holidays, slates softened in water, more rarely oatmeal or bran bread.

Maxime. Retrieve some grains and herbs from open fields.

Louise. To be shot for it by soldiers? I will find

No gentle Boaz sending me to glean,

Restorer of a stomach nearly squashed.

Maxime. Do not, I pray, for in such barley fields

The owners rather seek dexterity

Of lips than that of hands.

Enter the archbishop of Lyon

Lyon. Good people, are you impatient?

Maxime. No, only hungry.

Lyon. A temporary lull merely, economic transactions being clogged, as we hear, in a sluggish Lethe, to be forgotten, or at worst thought on without contumely or resentment. People of Christ, for the good of all, spend all you can.

Louise. With what, your eminence?

Lyon. Discouragement makes us discourse wildly. To help commerce rise smilingly in dismayed and filthy robes, every denizen should invest somewhat, for pennies spent will get us pennies.

Maxime. We lack any.

Louise. And hope for even less.

Lyon. (throwing coins

Thus for your lighter spendings of the day!

Maxime. Not pennies, bread! Who chews on metal?

Louise. No shopkeeper accepts money now, having nowhere to spend it.

Lyon. Thus, Paris, for your whoring! Underneath

Loose garments, in your lack of diligence,

A shameful belly swells uncomfortably.

Louise. Instead of cakes, we eat the duke of Mayenne's promises, or exhortations from Catherine de Guise.

Lyon. Lords and ladies with your most profitable welfare at heart! But there are mightier authorities in existence, though invisible to all, to whom you must submit hearts pining for deliverance.

Maxime. For our money, we eat sermons, too.

Lyon. Though from a sinner's mouth while frothing lust

In pulpit thoughts of fornication,

The words delivered from our Gospel theme

Are worthiest of the best one ever hears.

Louise. O, certainty discovered naked in her night-closet, your eminence!

Maxime. Worth ten of my tavern-keeper's most thoughtful excogitations!

Lyon. Still blessed as subjects of my prayers, if

Not more! All these of which I daily speak,

As I discover more each day a man

Survives with love, worth more than feeding sins!

Maxime. Truth from the highest, Louise, only balm in a life of pain: after death, we sin no more.

Lyon. Improve that maxim: if we sin no more,

We surely live.

Maxime. I like that better.

Louise. As true, my man, as any ever said

Or else believed.

Exit Lyon

Maxime. How will we live?

Louise. Perhaps to lie apart is best.

Maxime. I guess your pious thoughts: stealing a soldiers's knapsack without my help, as he dreams to rub your body a second time.

Louise. Can you blame an empty woman's lustless lust?

Maxime. Together live, together die, mother-no more.

Louise. See some fat ones enter church.

Maxime. Even if we get nothing from them, we can always nibble on the candles as we leave.

Louise. Or steal some vestry wine while the curate snores contendly in his pupil's arms.

Maxime. I know you now, Louise. Deny it if You conjure hopes to prosper ever more:

You wish to use your middle-hole as boys

Do their rear ones.

Louise. What remains of your body would please him better, I can swear.

Exeunt Maxime and Louise

Act 1. Scene 2. Near a farmhouse outside Paris. 1592

Enter Fouterien and Bévue, with a book

Fouterien. Pails to fetch and carry, pyramid-labor every day, with a pox to master and man!

Bévue. To every fool and philosopher his work, Fouterien!

Fouterien. Leisure is a harlot who hates the poor. If only I could wive her!

Bévue. Dream waking as you can, then talk to me

When you awake.

Fouterien. Today I wash the pigs.

Bévue. The farm would be wholesomer if they washed you.

Fouterien. News of city sins: unclothe them, I pray you. How I wish my shaft's root would disappear inside such whores!

Bévue. By the faith of the Virgin's untouched robes, would you learn from a mere herald, of no brighter distinction, of no more prestigious attainments among the laity and clergy? Mere tinsel, I imagine.

Fouterien. But city pleasures, Bévue!

Bévue. Pooh, few worthy to be reported with no ringing ecues in a wallet, Fouterien.

Fouterien. More lively than country ones, I can guess without missing with twos or threes on both throws.

Bévue. Glorious whores eyeing satin and fur. At best I savor cans of beer, as many as I please in noise and smoke, nothing sapient, a pastime trite to enumerate even to country clowns, in no fashion comparable to a philosopher's quiet moments.

Fouterien. Open ones, eh, my son? O, for noisier coins than what can be kept in pierced breeches, enough for me to lie between smudged knees!

Bévue. Right, empty your pail, to empty your pail.

Fouterien. Whereas here, in Hog Hall, I discover loneliness in kissing Snorer's rump before sleeping.

Bévue. Your calf? Take heed, boy-fool born in an unconscious hour. For such farm night-work, some have bled terribly, you know.

Fouterien. How should I do otherwise? My fingers are never so knowing on myself as some appear to be among other lads, or like a woman's when she wants to please without mussing her smock.

Bévue. Be thankfully glad for your salutary warning sooner than tomorrow: no more stall-pleasures in the presence of chickens and geese, should someone chance to spy them when you least know of it.

Fouterien. Sheep are more convenient than women. They talk less.

Bévue. I can repeat, no more hedgerow concupiscence, for I have spoken tremblingly to witches tipped from their ladder to the fire for whispering no worse heresy to their cats at twilight than you have to your cows.

Fouterien. I burn already.

Bévue. Pooh, Stoics since Seneca have quit desire behind easily enough, to skip gravely towards their proper theme.

Fouterien. The more I think of readier ones, the randier I stiffen, with a fuco to the mistress and her mustache. I split, Bévue, I rend the fork on my breeches in thinking on their white nakedness.

Bévue. By Venus' lips at either end, I weary of the subject, a common one, as I guess, in the opinion of the most cited Latin authors.

Fouterien. Spill, farm-drudge, not from your pail but somewhere longer. If caught with this bucket half full, or even half empty, I expect to look with sorrow between my thighs on my master's blushing maiden rope. On, forward and back, standing and sitting, up to the rafters and down stinking to the troughs, with a chancre on each side and in the middle for those who eat with a fuller mouth than I.

Bévue. I find no such meditation in Cicero.

Fouterien. Does he empty and sweep as I do? When I ask for some chicken, the master gives me the beak or one of the claws, in compensation of which, if you say nothing, I'll creep inside, to spurt with my animals something more pleasant for me than their fodder.

Exit Fouterien and enter Maxime

Maxime. Some road or occupation for one guiltless and his more honest belly lacking most if not all.

Bévue. Is this Maxime or his bony ghost?

Maxime. What, friend-Bévue, from straw and officers' clubs to court-splendor?

Bévue. Hush, youthful errors, I always remind friends, of little interest now to any ascending manhood.

Maxime. What are you? Some shiny beetle in a fruit-dish at least.

Bévue. A herald, cherished son of ignorance, with tabard no less emblazoned than most, thanks to which your friend is fortunately secure behind Paris gates, besides most parts of the kingdom, in the service or thraldom of gentlemen of note as they please to order me elsewhere. Before reaching the modest eminence you see me glitter in, I was the fifth of October 1582 which never was, or as closed as affliction's flower, Paradin's emblem of the queen of Navarre, which, resolutely turned towards the sun of rank, is open now to newer joys, as proof of which behold the field, enameled in metal, color, and fur, the figures intricate in dextrals and sinistrals as in the best they are, for my master's own, his tri-fold fleur-de-lys, golden, on background azured, in gules bordered, as permanent sign-post of the face of the very worshipful duke of Mayenne. And you?

Maxime. Chased from the field in my round cap and bag around the waist to Paris for lack of work, then pressed from the city to the road for lack of work, with the beadle's whip and worse adventures for discovering none of note.

Bévue. Are you alone?

Maxime. Eh? I saw my wife last- but that must be- surely- no, this past month or day, I believe so. (fainting

Bévue. Towards my house for more feeding than talk!

Exeunt Bévue carrying Maxime

Act 1. Scene 3. Before the church of St-Andrew-of-the-Arts. 1592

Enter Father Aubry and Brin, with a broom

Aubry. Apollo's happiest morrow to all true And honest sextons! Benedictions

On most of them, I say!

Brin. A better morrow to our no less true

But far more secret curate of the night.

Aubry. I, secretive, Brin? Why so? Can you tell?

Brin. An unknown pupil in the sacristy

Was seen last night, your mouthless witness says,

The boy with weeping shaken as you helped

To find his breeches underneath the sheets.

Aubry. Ha, you refer no doubt to wee Palin,

That forward one, whom I, against my will,

Though with a gravest fatherhood's consent,

Was forcibly constrained in my worst hour

With soggy twiglets nicely to correct.

Brin. True, culpability's own at the age

Of twelve or less, whose well-instructed arse

Bears what it never hoped to find so soon,

A new religion learnt with rods of flesh,

His rounded mouth aquiver, limping hot

And sore, with crying weary, rubbing parts

Never constrained as yet at front or back.

Aubry. A mildew on your conscience! Thoroughly

I pray you to abandon at this time

Such themes for merrier hours between two friends.

Brin. While I, unenvied sexton no one sees,

As certain as the travels of the earth

Around the sun- I read somewhat, you know-

Am sorely afflicted day and night

With boys of darkness, blushless girlhood, too,

When cheerfully I sweep our sins outside.

Aubry. Afflicted, Brin?

Brin. Do you never spy out, when none of our

Parishioner's knees modestly advance

On stones for prayer meant, that gaper-band

Slide up and down along the aisles, make mouths

At stations of the cross, steal pictures, gems,

And vessels of the saints, prick leisurely

Into the poor-box?- Ha, one victim more.

Exit Brin

Aubry. Have you discovered him? Is it Palin?

Brin. (within

No, father, this one wears breeches, at least for the moment.- I have catched you, young sir, in such a way that guilt will sooner feel to his torment on defenseless muscle a sexton's distress against dishonesties than any child's pleasure aimed at. You will be fingered well.

Aubry. What, mocking, stealing, hacking, harrying,

With usual boyhood merriments and filth?

Re-enter Brin with Benoît, without his breeches

Brin. (striking him

Watch how a boy of fourteen skips and moans.

For senseless tampering this, warmer fare

For breaking locks and frames regardlessly.

Benoît. Ha! Lower, sexton, should it please you so,

More miseries, I pray, on thigh and calf,

Or death, should I be worthy of that boon!

Brin. Bind up the legs together like bean-poles

Nailed, lest a naughty gamin spills this day

To his despair all seeds of progeny.

Benoît. Ha! Ha! I'm always thankful, as I hope

To thrive one day, for any sound advice.

Aubry. Sound this Benoît, too tender-arsed by far,

For gibbets only good.- Hail-Maries on

Both arms for that at least!- Who saw a mouth

So wide? But should the parents stare nearby!

Brin. I little fancy childhood's coddled fools.

Foh, how your urchin reeks of wax! Quite hot

For candles, coins, wine-bowls, and chalices

None of his own or of his brotherhood!

Aubry. That last one lands him flatly on his nose.

Brin. For twacking call me king among these brats.-

Stay, cannon-shot in miniature, up

With more of what at sixty you will be

More thankful for. I ever hear it said:

Who knows but thieving loudest in his throes

Of punishment? One breechless in his pains,

Yet breachless to the shot of honesties,

Unless he suffers more than he deserves.

Benoît. Ha! Never will I enter church again.

Brin. Why? To sin with the monarch of the world?

Benoît. Ha! Terrible afflictions for a boy

So young as yet, unknowing of the world,

Perplexed before the mysteries of life!

Brin. Felicity! That one I best like, sure

As any blow was felt or heard about.

Aubry. May benedictions flow on these assaults

If branching robbery can be cut down.

Brin. From both our altar-pieces he has lopped

Saint Peter's halo from his naked head.

Aubry. What wayward Protestant can better that?

I'll wager all my beads and missals that

Our Tupi sacrilege at breakfast eats

Worse than his brother's genitals in fun.

Brin. For careless robbers, not one pair to sit

On laughing, but four quarters freshly bled.

Benoît. Some Christ-born pity, if you wish the same

While coldly sweating on your final bed!

Aubry. He'll surely be rubbing till next week,

Unless each stroke's diameter offends

In quarter-circles infidels adore.

Brin. With fingers in each socket, out with you!

Benoît. O! O! O! O!

Brin. A disobedience that can howl: good, good.

I only wish he had two more to burn

With at this hour, in hot reprisal's name.

Aubry. He will forget tomorrow, I dare pray.

Exit Benoît, limping and weeping

Brin. The uses of a broom! I am obliged

Towards what forceless instruments obtain,

Unlike the dangers sometimes seen in those Which penetrate.

Aubry. Again that topic? Have I said enough?

I'll have his father next at afternoon

Confession for adulteries unblamed

For, only sorrowful in lacking smocks

Of lovelier sheen to pitch his filth beneath.-

What brains I keep, forgetting to keep mum

About night-whispers of man's turpitudes!

Brin. You sweep away all front-end sins as fast

And merrily as I do autumn leaves.

Enter Bévue

Bévue. Say, Father Aubry: are you free to shrive?

Confession I crave after ere I sleep.

Aubry. As surely as we stand before the house

Of pardon, should it pleasure you to heed

That with less undeserving prejudice.

Bévue. Should not the sexton leave before we start?

Aubry. True, as I strive for mercies on my soul.

What fetid matter warps my brain today?

Go, Brin, restoring to our satisfaction

Outrageous damages committed by

The little losels we both hate and love,

In their amendment loving, hating sins

In vilest boyhood prompter to be shown.

Brin. As I may, father, I'll obey at once.

Exit Brin

Aubry. Reveal in hope of mercies what you have

Regretfully to sigh for at this hour.

Bévue. Sins recognized as mine this very day.

Aubry. Now in the tempest while we shake and groan.

Bévue. How? Should I not in darkness kneel within?

Aubry. Why? To the sun of France pull out those teeth

Of death in torment grinding half your soul.

It knows too little of our sins, or else

They all would die. Make known what liberates

Forever as we speak to open air.

Bévue. It is for sins of darkness, barely

Heard of before, I come to speak about,

Contritely, cheerlessly, with little hope

To find thrice-bolted filth remitted when

I waver so in speech, but worse in deed.

Aubry. Onward and forward!

Bévue. A man I found, too pale and ill to speak-

My friend, Maxime, a friend.

Aubry. Another of your deeds of charity,

Bespeaking well of what may follow. Good.

Bévue. My friend- known- cherished- sleeping I found him-

Aubry. Say.

Bévue. After twice feeding- still the man looked pale

And weakening- asleep I seemed to look,

In sleep I gaze, and, as I thought, I longed.

Aubry. Ha?

Bévue. Forbiddenly.

Aubry. Man in a bed asleep, yourself a man?

What then?

Bévue. Nothing.

Aubry. Two dozen benedictions on a word

All saints adore today!

Bévue. But yet tomorrow?

Aubry. Let him go. Never see such men again.

Bévue. I cringe in telling it. What if desires

I never fathomed in a sea of sleep

Return to weed my senses in the night?

Aubry. Tomorrow come. Much further should we speak

Of this, a plague of death disguised as love

Environing men hardier than ourselves,

Achilles, as I read, Patroclus caught,

Large stoutness unprevailing, to be thought

On with excess of fear, but yet with hope.

Bévue. I thought so.

Aubry. Let mankind's second apple rot away.

Bévue. True, certainly. Then to let go is all

A man needs to do? Father, I thank you.

Exeunt Aubry and Bévue

Act 1. Scene 4. A street in Paris. 1592

Enter Maxime and Louise

Maxime. At last I find today a sort of wife.

Louise. Twice in one lifetime to improve our joys.

Maxime. No gadding?

Louise. No.

Maxime. Not once?

Louise. At worse.

Maxime. Can you not hold, and I without one crust

A day to scrape my teeth with?

Louise. I have no belly, I suppose. Call me

Goose carried to the market upside down

Alive on poles if I must always eat

With your permission.

Maxime. Yes, surely, I recommend eating, but in what state do you lie in now? Is it your wish to live? Good. Consider then your mind. Is it a whore's?

Louise. Insulted, baffled, and afflicted still!

Maxime. So you should be and worse, unless my brows,

To head and eyes a torment, teach me what I cannot be and live.

Louise. For such a pheasant, I dare swear, you would

Have opened twice each hour two of your holes

As widely as mine, too thankful for

That boon among all others on that day.

Maxime. Are you a wife or my assassin-bug,

Blood-sucking on blood-sucking bedbugs? Brows

Like lead-pipes on my head and growing down

In antler-wide arborizations!

Louise. That should least trouble us, while yet we bear

Two bellies to be cared for at all times.

Maxime. Yours should be kicked if to my face of shame

It carries what I cannot think of yet.

Louise. I kick with legs as well.

Enter Bévue

Bévue. Ha! Fortunate unlooked-for meetings still!

Maxime. My friend! Look wondering, my only love:

It is Bévue.

Louise. Who?

Bévue. How, you, Maxime, with her!

Maxime. My friend you surely remember. No?

Louise. Somewhat, I think.

Maxime. Not my Bévue? That heinous culprit who

Sneaked in the master's orchard, to be caught

By Fouterien and his dog, in dungeons clapped,

And for an apple whipped on back and arse

As red and raw as it, then shot away

At court, who, saving wretches from a doom

Not to be thought on, is pronounced at last

The man a man embraces in one life!

Bévue. Maxime, and with a woman! Sudden news!

Maxime. My honest- what is he you once called me,

That Greek's name- he kens all antiquities,

Good proper wife-

Bévue. My more than Pylades, my astrolabe,

With whom I measure time by starlight, he!

Maxime. My wife, Bévue.

Bévue. Your wife, Bévue, not guessed at, as I live.

Maxime. No, not Bévue, my wife, Louise, met in

An hour most fortunate of all I know.

Louise. Well pleased to view a man with means to save.

Bévue. To my house for some larger banquet-fare!

Maxime. How, to impose importunates so soon?

Bévue. Till fortune kisses two who best deserve

To crush a bone or two in these dog-times.

Maxime. They say, she whores.

Louise. As everyone, from king to peasant, do.

Maxime. No matter for that.- You have work to do

No doubt, Bévue, and we to spoil your day

With such a trifle as most desperate

And imminent starvation without hope!

Bévue. I go at once to help a constable

In capturing that great unfortunate,

Fouterien of painfullest remembrances.

Maxime. Why?

Bévue. The strangest story of a monstrous birth

Of calfhood at a farm-house! Too soon learned,

Too late grieved for!

Maxime. For this time I retire, and quickly, too!

Thanks to your feeding, far too pressing at

The rim of crackhood!

Exit Maxime

Louise. I see the crocodile, with nostrils, eyes

And ears above the stream.

Bévue. Near wife twice honored, never doubt my faith.

Louise. Never let him know I blow on your flute.

Bévue. The husband should reward my industry:

Enlarging your purse, I enlarge his own.

Louise. A spouse's loyalty should not depend

On money. There are other reasons, too,

Why we should heretofore avoid, since all

Venerian dangers are the deadlier feared.

Bévue. How, no more climbing on your forked tree-branch?

Do you deny you love my pheasant, wench?

Louise. No further blessing of my husband's head

With strange excrescences!

Bévue. To spare him raising foreign progeny,

I can be made to enter not like troups

Of cardinals through the main-entrance, but

Like monks content behind the chapel-door.

Louise. Both sides of fucade I hope to resist.

Exeunt Louise and Bévue