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. No.

Aubry. No?

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. No.

Aubry. No?

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. No?

Aubry. No.

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. Yes.

Lincestre. Yes?

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. No.

Aubry. Yes.

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.

Bourges. No?

Aubry. I'll bite before I honor this king as

His majesty.

Bourges. Despite his teeth, we'll crown a Bourbon king

Before the eyes of France and all the world.

Aubry. No.

Lincestre. No?

Bourges. Bite as you will. Saint-Denis for a crown

On top of France, so long without a head!

Exit Bourges

Aubry. Look for the Béarnais to faint and fall.

Lincestre. No.

Aubry. No?

Lincestre. No.

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.

Blanchefleur. Ha!

Benoît. I know what is promised.

Bailleton. Flogging, half-drowning, breaking bones

In quest of further information

Before the final picture of distress.

Blanchefleur. No!

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,

Then murder.

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."

Mayenne. Untrue.

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?

Maxime. No.

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.

Blanchefleur. Ha?

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.

Barrière. No.

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