Collaborative play writing/French chronicles of the 1590s/Act 4
Act 4. Scene 1. At the conference in Suresne. 1593
Enter the dukes of Feria, Mayenne, Guise, and Aumale
Guise. When Frenchmen grumble, peace-time lies amort.
Aumale. Will none agree? While we deliberate,
The Béarnais approaches Paris, glad
Of controversies in religion's camp.
Guise. The Béarnais with England blustering Down many forts and towns.
Aumale. What if they do? We'll fight despite their teeth
Stuck on our bosoms.
Mayenne. We'll grapple with them. But will Spain send arms
To stifle altercation's stirrers-up?
Feria. France sleeps on Spain's religious bosom. Did
My king arise to serve Bartholomew
While sitting to his feast of blood in France?
I think he did.
Mayenne. Can you converse more freely? Will you tell
Of Spain's conditions should she interfere?
Feria. By my faith, very little in exchange
For troops of warriors ready to shoot down
With hunting faces controversy's harts.
There is another fashion to catch them:
Resigned to quiet France in love and hope,
Spain's daughter as your sovereign may be crowned.
Guise. The people disallow her sympathy.
Aumale. My fiery lord of Guise, what if they do?
Seditious mouths are sent in trenches to
Converse with louder cannons nearest foes.
Mayenne. France wishes for a king, no foreign queen
Sufficient for her holy purposes.
Aumale. No doubt.
Feria. Should it depend on us, contentious lords,
Religious Guise is henceforth king of France.
Mayenne. The legate of the pope, my beehive lord
Of stings and sweets, does not agree with you.
Aumale. We all heard him.
Feria. Lords, should we not combine our interests?
Is not my lord of Guise in marriage rites
The readiest to pierce through the right way in?
Guise. I am.
Aumale. Spain mocks the pope and us.
Feria. Who dares pronounce one word against Spain's faith
In Rome's supremacy throughout the world?
Mayenne. The Catholic League.
Aumale. Our Holy Union.
Guise. The Holy Union once obeyed her head:
The duke of Guise my father, dead for her.
Aumale. Our people will revolt against Spain's wish.
Mayenne. Should any even mention barricades,
I'll have him stabbed.
Aumale. I will lend you the poniard.
Mayenne. What will Spain yield to us?
Feria. A glorious troop of forty thousand men
And necessary ecues for your wars.
Guise. With me as king.
Aumale. With death as king.
Mayenne. This may be thought on.
Aumale. Will you turn round with them, Lord Weathercock?
Feria. The Guise is king.
Aumale. That should be seen.
Feria. I'll lie a-groaning in Bastille until
My master's loyalty is known to all.
Mayenne. The duke of Feria's head cannot be weighed
With France's crown.
Guise. What is your wish, my lord of Mayenne? Will
You have the leaves of France quite overrun
And chewed by caterpillars of reform
While we talk in our sleep?
Aumale. My lord of Mayenne wears with his breast-plate
Steel in a baldric sharper than most tongues.
Guise. With Spain his powers thicken on the ground
Like martial-bearing bees do in the air.
Mayenne. Should I invite invaders into France?
Guise. Yes, when the Huguenots encroach within.
Aumale. The English mastiffs mouthing with Bordeaux'.
Mayenne. More on such topics afterwards. Join them,
Lord of Aumale, for some refreshing drinks.
Feria. Refresh us with the blood of Protestants.
Guise. The only cup we long to put our lips
To at this time.
Aumale. Unless I gain with Catholic war-friends
The triumph of our cause, or slide with them
Into the mud of graves, Aumale is sad.
Exeunt Feria, Guise, and Aumale, enter Bévue
Mayenne. Ha, nothing is accomplished when we talk.
Tell me, Bévue, what further news arrive
From Paris, worried by tergiversations?
Bévue. As much as I can tell, too little yet.
Mayenne. Here I am judged, there I judge others. Say:
What matter makes men gabble needlessly?
Bévue. A newborn's murder, committed, we hear, by the mocking donkey's daughter.
Mayenne. I'll see this girl to punish him twice more.
Exeunt Mayenne and Bévue
Act 4. Scene 2. A street in Paris. 1593
Enter Fathers Aubry and Lincestre
Lincestre. Not Father Aubry, celebrated for His fire? We meet.
Aubry. Lincestre, I think, celebrated for his smoke, hiding true dogma.
Lincestre. Lincestre, whom you often speak about aloft in pulpits.
Aubry. Why should I not before some scissor off
The holy puppets of lewd Protestants?
Lincestre. Entirely Catholic, because charitable and loving, with hopes that the king will eventually amend his doctrine.
Aubry. Pray for the Spanish king's daughter as our queen.
Lincestre. France never will embrace a foreign one,
Unknown of any, on the bed of peace.
Aubry. Consider the Spanish king's daughter as a female Isaac, sacrificing her body to religion.
Lincestre. You are rumored as the king's chaplain and confessor.
Aubry. I? No.
Lincestre. However that may be, I have received
Some letters from the king concerning his
Commands on his conversion at Saint-Denis.
Aubry. The king will not be crowned.
Lincestre. Who will forbid it?
Aubry. The Guise is our new David, to lop off
Such monster heads as some in France adore.
Lincestre. That boyish boy?
Aubry. He'll clip your king, to make him nakedly
Bestride the leafless bushes of his church.
Lincestre. He will not.
Aubry. I say he will. Will you creep to Saint-Denis?
Lincestre. To Saint-Denis in an open retinue with the archbishop of Bourges, the bishops of Nantes, Chartres, Mans, Evreux, the curates of Saint-Sulpice, Saint-Eustace, and Saint-Merry.
Aubry. Saint-Merry? I'll have him hurdled naked to the post of infamy.
Lincestre. However that may be, benedictions on our work!
Aubry. Maledictions on your treasons!
Lincestre. Benedictions on the king's entreprise!
Aubry. Maledictions on your king's hypocrisies!
Lincestre. Benedictions on this homage to religion!
Aubry. Maledictions on religion's desecration!
Enter the archbishop of Bourges
Bourges. What shouts are these? No children but loud priests?
Lincestre. Father Aubry's hopes do not rise with ours on Denis' fertile bed.
Aubry. I'll bite before I honor this king as
Bourges. Despite his teeth, we'll crown a Bourbon king
Before the eyes of France and all the world.
Bourges. Bite as you will. Saint-Denis for a crown
On top of France, so long without a head!
Aubry. Look for the Béarnais to faint and fall.
Exit Lincestre and enter Brin carrying shoulders of mutton and veal
Brin. His Spanish majesty's servant thanks your zeal.
Aubry. Ha! Twice more than expected this week. But, Brin, while men watch, you should not stride so openly with the Spanish king's gifts.
Brin. I waited till your angry brothers left.
Aubry. No brothers, Brin, apostates as I say
And always will maintain. Enough of them!
I'm hungry, Brin.
Brin. Then I should be more cherished for the load
I bear alone.
Aubry. A blessed burden! Speedily away
To church and table while the priest is well!
Brin. As fast as drudges bustle, folded twice
More than a man should reasonably be.
Exeunt Aubry and Brin
Act 4. Scene 3. The Bastille in Paris. 1593
Enter Bailleton, Blanchefleur, and Benoît
Bailleton. You'll both at least be hanged.
Blanchefleur. Iron sir, pity my bowels! Say that your judiciary experience may err concerning a young girl's hopes, never before contrary in any fashion to her country's laws.
Bailleton. I do not hope to know so much as that.
Benoît. I swear on her behalf, much more on mine,
Mere innocents before ill-thinking eld.
Bailleton. I cannot tell, except that I believe
Parisian strollers at Grève's public square
Will idly glance on dangling pairs of feet
From soggy bags of piss. Blanchefleur. O, never say so while I live.
Benoît. More miseries, ourselves the source of them!
Bailleton. I cannot tell. With luck or gold, perhaps
You'll merely lose your lives.
Blanchefleur. Our heinous guilt: the burying of a corpse.
Bailleton. Guilt is a word I understand too well.
I'm sorry for your necks and other parts.
Blanchefleur. Who hears the innocent?
Bailleton. Murdering a newborn is a horrible act of crime, I hear. That's all I know, or expect to know, this month.
Blanchefleur. With old suspicion smelling any fault-
Benoît. Youth always hops for it.
Bailleton. Hanging is a kind of groundless meditation, a stationary fall, a downward prayer. But before you benefit from such a touch of lenity, look to suffer in some heat.
Benoît. I know what is promised.
Bailleton. Flogging, half-drowning, breaking bones
In quest of further information
Before the final picture of distress.
Bailleton. Imagination falters as I think
Of what may yet become of you today.
Benoît. More of an ancient's sense of justices?
Bailleton. Yes, every fault to be punished at all costs in any fashion!
Enter Maxime and Louise
Blanchefleur. I hanker for no old man's judgment here.
Bailleton. The duke will render one nevertheless,
Not likely to be liked by anyone
Who once took care of you, as I do here.
Blanchefleur. What have I done?
Bailleton. Killed your baby, called murder in these parts.
Maxime. Exactly as we feared when she took up
The monster in her arms to milk its lip!
Louise. Confirmed! For all our coddling, looseness first,
Blanchefleur. It choked before you came.
Bailleton. I did not see that.
Blanchefleur. Will I die here before we have a chance
To speak a little for our hapless cause?
Maxime. She has lived, to our torment.
Louise. Too comfortably, as I often say.
Blanchefleur. Will not a maiden be believed at least
By those she loves?
Maxime. That much depends on what the duke decides.
Louise. The crime and then punishment, I say.
Blanchefleur. I could tear off these hands for casting that
Dead thing before suspicion could see it.
Benoît. Tear off your hair at least, or mine at worst.
Maxime. The fifth case in our neighborhood this year!
Louise. The Simons only yesterday at dawn!
Bailleton. I weary in attempting to catch all, Youth at all times so often at it still.-
The duke in thunder-clouds of indignation!
Enter the duke of Mayenne, attended
Mayenne. Is this the murderess?
Bailleton. It is, your eminence.
Mayenne. The magistrate some think too lenient in
Child-killings is not here to try this case,
So that it but remains for you to tell
Your story to your duke, for which come forth.
With fearless speaking tell me in few words
Why you at fourteeen have destroyed your child.
Blanchefleur. My lord, I killed no one.
Mayenne. You know the fears the guilty are subject
To for untruths in chambers of Bastille.
Blanchefleur. I do not, nor with trembling do I seek
To know them yet, because I speak the truth.
Mayenne. How would it be if we let murder slip?
Can states stand in such cases? Tottering,
The powerfullest must by nature fall.
You might aver you merely killed a babe,
Moreover, as I hear, the merest lump,
Bereft of voice and almost half his face.
Yet what of that? You stifled living breath,
Created as we are, though probably
Too weak to live out many days. Admit
Your fault, and suffer what is promised in
Such cases.- Do you weep? That demonstrates
Guilt fitly trembling in her honest mask.
Blanchefleur. I cannot speak for fear.
Mayenne. Most obvious proof of guiltiness
As any yet in court! Confess. Spare pains
Too few of any age or sex can bear,
Or else be bound inside to instruments
That, tearing, searing, speak with iron tongues
Instead of yours.
Blanchefleur. I hurt no none, my lord.
Mayenne. Few will misunderstand the reason why:
No father for your babe! Too plain it seems
You rid yourself of worry to ease life,
Unthinkingly, remorsefully. Then say
To all the world: "I killed my babe," so that
One truth at last may breathe, though he does not.
Blanchefleur. I sigh to say: "I never killed my babe."
Blanchefleur. A witness, kindly lord!
Mayenne. That boy? I think he shrinks apart because
He is as guilty as you are, and thus
Will likely suffer the same fate as yours.
Blanchefleur. No, no, no, no.
Maxime. My lord-
Mayenne. Our troubling donkey-mocker once again?
Louise. Your eminence, however that may be,
We now believe the child is innocent.
Mayenne. Who else was witness to this felony?
Bailleton. I was, your emicence.
Mayenne. You saw her kill her babe?
Bailleton. Oh no, my lord.
Mayenne. Who then saw her do it?
Bailleton. None, as I think, my lord.
Mayenne. Though no one saw it, she should be condemned
As any sorceress who practices
At night the vilest stiflings, witness-poor
To our designs of ridding us of them.
Maxime. Is it not worse, my lord, to execute
The innocent than freeing culpables?
Mayenne. No. Innocents towards home sink to rise,
While guilty ones make earth the thing it is,
Most horrid and despicable. I say
She's guilty: can you counter otherwise?
Louise. And yet she's innocent, too innnocent.
Blanchefleur. Ho, what of that? Most guilty are we judged
To be, and therefore as the guiltiest wail.
Mayenne. Not so. I now believe the girl and boy
To be quite innocent of any crime.
Mayenne. No one can tell here, therefore no one dies.
Bailleton. Not choking on a gibbet, it appears.
Benoît. No bleeding on this day: all quit with sweat,
Less painful by far.
Blanchefleur. For all deeds once remembered or else not,
A promise to atone repentantly!
Mayenne. What do you think, Bailleton? Should they at least be whipped to rawness for promiscuity?
Bailleton. Look how the merest word sends liberated youth a-tremble! Your eminence, for many years I have been enjoined as lasher royal on multitudinous shoulders of infraction, with few thanks, but, to this day, I have rarely seen a case demanding that I bestir myself as this one. I promise to bleed lasciviousnesses to their knees in tears, by this hand.
Blanchefleur. Too cruel officer, my thighs have never yet even felt rough homespun.
Mayenne. For once, your pained body will be stretched and twisted against the pole of blood as tightly as the skein you work on. How will it be, beadle: leather, wood, or steel?
Bailleton. The expert blisters both with one pole-chain.
Blanchefleur. You cannot know me.
Bailleton. Fainting at this time? The girl I do not know, neither her limit nor mine. As for this fellow, I know him.
Benoît. But I do not, only my backside does.
Mayenne. Prepare, while fathers mutely stare and moan.
Exeunt Mayenne and attendants
Maxime. Before all great ones, bend submissively.
Louise. How else should carelessness be made to learn?
Blanchefleur. You will not strike indecently, kind sir?
Louise. Expect to bleed where once you should have bled.
Blanchefleur. Some kind of pity, gentlest officer!
Bailleton. The law appears to be insulted here,
But I learn patience with my Seneca:
A promise of an execution on
Your arses if not on your guilty necks.
Benoît. To be macerated into long strips of flesh for disposing of garbage!
Bailleton. Enough of seeming tears, more of real ones!
Blanchefleur. A man certain to leave deep impressions on us.
Benoît. His rods if not his name.
Bailleton. Both quite likely, in that "Bailleton" is inscribed on each of them.
Exeunt Bailleton, Blanchefleur, Benoît, Maxime, and Louise
Act 4. Scene 4. The church of St-Andrew-of-the-Arts in Paris. 1593
Enter Father Aubry and Barrière
Barrière. The outcome at Suresne will please no saint.
Aubry. A three-month truce against the Protestants
Is Satan's coronation triumphing.
Barrière. Which we prevent, before the Huguenots
Rest without needing to hide from God's wrath.
Aubry. In your hands ready to be tried and done
With glory on your crown. Will you do it?
Barrière. What, killing a non-king, and for a cause
Revered by those we hold as godly? Yes.
Aubry. King David's benedictions on such oaths!
In holy water will we wipe those hands
With powder dirtied for the Béarnais,
That Holofernes and a hypocrite!
Conversion cannot rise from foggy lamps
Of Calvin's institutions starved in sin.
Aubry. Shoot him quite through the guts, though in our church
I bellow it, as yet too secretly.
Barrière. In his back, neck, or elsewhere, so long as
A monarch dies. I am amazed too few
Among the faith have yet attempted it.
Aubry. The French are God's cold dishes, which is why,
To show us how, after that action's weal, With Judith you will banquet luciously.
Barrière. No doubt.
Aubry. Go, Peter: I will build on you alone.
Barrière. The Catholic anew in God's own France
Despite our hearts of negligence and fear!
Aubry. A kiss for your endeavors! Surpass all.
Barrière. I thank you, father. Though said to be brief
With most, I'll be far briefer with this king,
Much to his dolor as he groaning lies,
To sludge where all the heretics slime off.
Aubry. As many benedictions on this aim
As I speak words wherever congregate
The faithful when they kneel to saints at work!
Exeunt Barrière and Aubry
Act 4. Scene 5. A street in Paris. 1593
Enter Maxime and Bévue
Maxime. A suitor for my niece while you stroke down
My hair, with everything that climbs with love?
Bévue. Yours to be dallied with too secretly
But meet, hers in the daytime openly.
Maxime. A matter of deep lightness never seen
In stories of Boccaccio I have read!
Bévue. I trifle with your niece's openings,
While yours complete my own, to fill up well
Desire's leaky tub to overflowing.
Maxime. How will it be when my wife contemplates
Our mutual fingering, as must at last
Be found, however we disguise and feign?
Bévue. To prove it is not so, I'll cover both,
To their most sweet content, with yours as well,
Disguising our intentions as we sway
In secret from the keenest probing eye.
Where does she lie?
(Groans are heard within
Maxime. Your answer: Blanchefleur moaning on wet sheets,
Regretting much the zeal of officers
Of law against non-crime unjustly found
And punished cruelly.
Bévue. Still smarting?
Maxime. Just barely feeding without scarcely
A motion of her body pent in gauze.
Bévue. That beadle I hope to be quit against,
If once I own the duke of Mayenne's ear.
Maxime. Go comfort her in any way you can.
Bévue. Miraculously rising friend, I will.
Exit Maxime, Blanchefleur revealed in bed
How do you fare, of all my sweetest sin?
Blanchefleur. I think, when naked, I shine in the dark.
Bévue. I'll be avenged against that officer.
Blanchefleur. Do. Let me hear but once before I sit,
Should that be possible next month or year,
That nervy-membered Bailleton has been stabbed
Across his chest in many painful spots.
Bévue. A man for senseless flayings only fit.
Blanchefleur. Indeed, that officer was very wroth
And backward in my case, though innocent
Of any damage done to anyone.
Bévue. Ho! Can you stand?
Blanchefleur. Not without wincing for an hour or more.
Bévue. Ah, dearest! And your friend?
Blanchefleur. I never thought to hear a boy screech so.
He seems one broadside breach, infested in
A way to sadden his physicians as
They hourly tend to shoulder, hip, or sides,
His cannon lost in waves of rising flesh.
Bévue. Your stern-flags lowered as his own, I guess.
Blanchefleur. I am the creature with one buttock, since
The crack is lost on which a maiden rests.
A stick of fire! The hissing and the cut!
None should imagine bodies fissured so.
He dove into us, opening portholes
As if he meant to drop with sweat and blood
Into a wider Seine. When first that bar,
That awful, awful, awful rod of pine,
Which often he replaced as it wore out,
Bore on four shoulders as we kissed the post,
I tumbled without falling in a kind
Of fainting watchfulness, thighs like the top
Of trees in rougher gales, breasts flattening
Against my pillar, lovelessly erect.
Bévue. For this, a man will loudly shed more tears
On his own rods than what imbibed that shirt.
Blanchefleur. It mattered little whether back or arse
Was covered: down it came, when every stroke
Burned into flesh wherever it incised,
So that two voices died off after yells
In rounds of misery undreamed of yet
In health or sickness. Look with wondering
At linen cut away, which once was thought
To be my petticoat: so many blows,
So many yelps of dolor, till the man,
Or rather human brute unknown of men,
Lost breath in digging wounds inside each wound.
Bévue. Say how may I best serve you in this gear?
Blanchefleur. Despite her pains, the punished should still eat.
Bévue. Come. I'll support your strides along the way.
Exeunt Bévue and Blanchefleur, tottering and groaning