Collaborative play writing/The Countess of Challand/Act 2

Act 2. Scene 1. Mansino's palace

Enter Mansino, Agostino, and Pompina

Mansino. Ha? Flouting me thus? Rake her towards me.

Agostino. Have you observed the countess in her bed? Who says so but a Riccardatto full To spilling of the lust he bears for her?

Mansino. With pincers, howling, drag her hairless back.

Pompina. No doubt accused unjustly by her friends, Unjustly because jealous of your prize.

Mansino. Will I obtain my will or hear more tunes Of diffidence and woe I do not hear?

Pompina. As you desire, my lord.

Exeunt Mansino and Agostino, enter Bianca

Bianca. Pompina, I trust you are very well.

Pompina. Madam, we know each other. Should I feign gladness on sight of you?

Bianca. Have you cause to do so?

Pompina. The most dangerous one.

Bianca. Why?

Pompina. Because of your open and- dare I say- perilous mocking of my lord.

Bianca. How?

Pompina. In the worst way a woman can.

Bianca. Have I done so?

Pompina. By the world's general mouth you have, because of which I'll henceforth tremble for your days all my days.

Bianca. Fear?

Pompina. In deepest anguish of the heart I do.

Bianca. How does my lover fare?

Pompina. Because of your straying, exceedingly ill. I beseech you to believe me, for you wend tottering with closed eyes down winding paths beside cliffs of destruction.

Bianca. More riddles?

Pompina. He suspects your falling off.

Bianca. What of that?

Pompina. Should he discover you in that other fellow's- I dare not think of it.

Bianca. Discovered?

Pompina. But not as yet possessed with your love's name.

Bianca. So young, he may withstand the loss, I hope.

Pompina. Here's one arriving I would rather not encounter, but must for your sake, as a kind of spectacle for your edification. Hide behind curtains to learn something of your fate.

Bianca. Well, for his sake, I can but follow this.

Exit Bianca and enter Michela

Pompina. Ah, sister, hide yourself from tempests here.

Michela. I see no cloud above.

Pompina. Prepare for those below.

Michela. Who storms?

Pompina. Let flashing Jupiter disclose his ire.

Re-enter Mansino

Mansino. I, thundering, come for you, mistress.

Michela. Do lords stare in so ghastly a way at a mere grocer's daughter?

Mansino. Where is my chine of beef?- You know I take such meat on Tuesday.

Michela. I forgot, my lord.

Mansino. You sent fish on Tuesday, beef on Friday.

Michela. I know I did.

Mansino. Let heaven strike me if I mean you well.

You know it, mistress?

Pompina. Why do I tremble for mere bee-swarms that

Buzz and disperse?

Mansino. You know and do not know.

Michela. Is that a jest?

Mansino. I will do mischief here. You know, or should, My never-to-be gainsaid habits here.

Pompina. Why should you trouble yourself for so little, sir?

Mansino. I have a mind to it for once. Away, Pompina! I speak to Michela's mind, Intending more than merely debate.

Michela. Would it please my lord to consider the confusion of the hour?

Mansino. I consider myself ignored. Count Mansino as the grosser grocer's daughter's jest?- Answer.

Michela. I do not know what.

Mansino. Yet speak.

Michela. I would do you pleasure in most matters, my lord.

Mansino. Yet fish was sent on Tuesday.

Michela. The flesh was tender.

Mansino. I'll tender you, maiden. Here's my thought: discovering newer methods to promote understanding more soundly in the way of service.

Pompina. Why trouble with her, sir?

Mansino. Away, painted piper, she readily knows her doom.

Michela. Ha?

Mansino. Is rank or worth no part of your conception?

Michela. Both are.

Mansino. Is it in man's nature to be laughed at or scorned?

Michela. O, no.

Mansino. I cannot brook to be so. Here is my dagger on that (taking out a dagger

Pompina. O, sir-

Mansino. Swear that I am not scorned.

Michela. On this?

Mansino. On this.

Michela. I swear by this dagger.

Mansino. (stabbing her to death Good.

Pompina. Ah, no, you have not killed her.

Mansino. I do not know that. If so, to my horror let it be said, I am the wretchedest not yet dead. I cannot speak.

Exit Mansino

Pompina. Alas, poor and miserable! Is this meant for others, too?

Re-enter Bianca

Bianca. Those still alive are most lamented for.

Pompina. You see your own mischance inscribed on her?

Bianca. I do.

Pompina. What should we do with the body?

Enter Riccardatto

Bianca. Here comes my crownless savior of some kind.

Riccardatto. Ha, resting?

Pompina. Dead.

Bianca. Killed by my love, Mansino.

Pompina. Terror among us, for no reason! Impatience and there an end!

Riccardatto. The count is much to blame and would be so More harshly were he as his subjects are.

Bianca. Play the man in this business, Riccardatto.

Riccardatto. When have I failed the moment I was asked?

Bianca. Call for no officer, remove the corpse And carry it far from this palace, to A field, to bury it from sight at once. Leave at her father's house this consolation.

(giving a purse

Riccardatto. A work of direst peril! What if I Am seen? Some may accuse your servant of A murder in this work.

Bianca. Do you prevaricate? The sight offends.

Riccardatto. Hold, I am well again.

Exit Riccardatto, carrying away the corpse

Pompina. Do you smell danger now?

Bianca. More help, more help! See there the man who can Supply that, all by love for only love!

Enter Baizzo

Baizzo. Is our friend home?

Bianca. No friend of ours, Baizzo.

Baizzo. Why not?

Bianca. Let me not speak of that. The man's too bad.

Baizzo. Why do you say so?

Bianca. Warn us beforehand should your master come,

Pompina, or else I lose life and all.

Pompina. Without once failing.

Exit Pompina

Bianca. Am I your happiness?

Baizzo. Have not our bodies' pleasures proven that?

Bianca. Should I be worth your pains, I may then hope To draw some tear for my mischance today.

Baizzo. Who harms you?

Bianca. Who but a friend?

Baizzo. Mansino?

Bianca. Speeches must be briefer to be heeded; otherwise, we may not live out the day.

Baizzo. How can this be, your visage being clear, Your form as lively-

Bianca. The sickness I may die from has a name: Mansino, worse than any in a doctor's book.

Baizzo. Why?

Bianca. Hear: we have flouted him.

Baizzo. Why? Does he know of us?

Bianca. He knows I roam, his love of yesterday, His traitress of today, and all because Your visage is a second April to My own and growing.

Baizzo. What should I do?

Bianca. Kill him.

Baizzo. My friend?

Bianca. Mansino will no doubt desire my death.

Baizzo. I lose myself where men may never hope To find me as I am.

Bianca. To hold your joyance nearer, you must do That, sweet: do it for honor or for love. My life's a bauble on Mansino's shirt, Which he throws down or loosens carelessly, Rid of in baskets with no further thought, Unless you dare uncopulate our bond From his regard. I ask no more than death To this Mansino, life for us, or else Prepare to lose what you once thought was won, My love and desolation.

Baizzo. Assure yourself of my faith's loyalty.

Exit Baizzo and re-enter Riccardatto

Riccardatto. I have prepared her on the waggon-top.

Bianca. In saving more than one you gain but one Reward, but yet the precious one, the one Dreamed on, my Riccardatto, ripe for us. I am the countess of Challand again.

Riccardatto. Who makes you lose yourself?

Bianca. Servilio.

Riccardatto. I know him.

Bianca. I wish you would not.

Riccardatto. Then he is gone.

Bianca. I wish no man may ever in his life

Know that man's face again.

Riccardatto. Then he is buried.

Bianca. You hit exactly the blank of my thoughts.

Exeunt Bianca and Riccardatto

Act 2. Scene 2. Bianca's palace

Enter Baizzo and Servilio

Servilio. Have you not spoken to Mansino yet?

Baizzo. No.

Servilio. I care little enough for that, having my own troubles.

Baizzo. Which?

Servilio. I know I am most strangely followed here.

Baizzo. By whom?

Servilio. The household stares at me, even the house.

Baizzo. With reason, it appears.

Enter Riccardatto

Riccardatto. Lay hands on that villain, by the countess' orders.

Servilio. So soon esteemed a traitor?

Baizzo. No struggling. Think of death.

Riccardatto. That would be best.

Servilio. I wish I had shaved, for my beard, I fear,

Is likely to be plucked against my wish.

Enter Bianca

Bianca. You see your end near, villain.

Servilio. Ha! How have I displeased you, mistress?

Bianca. A villain questions! Bind him strictly, sirs. The slave this morning tempted me in bed.

Riccardatto. He has beheld too many in the world Who wish to do the same.

Servilio. Yet you declined.

Bianca. And thereby I lose all my faith in him.

Baizzo. A menial horrible to contemplate!

Servilio. The wringing comes. Why should I pine because I longed for woman's bed but once in thought?

Riccardatto. This way along.

Baizzo. I hold him nearer.

(Riccardatto and Baizzo pull at Servilio's beard

Servilio. Ha, speak of me as one who once knew life. O! O! O! O! O! O!

Bianca. His untuned crochets rising please my ear.

Baizzo. Harmonious in the plucking of each string.

Servilio. A strumming like the service of the dead!

Bianca. Think of the limb that almost strayed, then say Whether the tuning is worth what you sought.

Servilio. O! O! O! O!

Baizzo. And yet some pity would be seemlier here.

Riccardatto. That would but spoil the dish we offer to Offended chastity.

Servilio. Kill me instead.

Bianca. Never such favors for the man of lust!

Baizzo. The tears drop plentifully from his beard, Like icicles in spring-time melting down From a thatched roof.

Riccardatto. Expected when pulled roughly so. Or like Transparent olives when we shake the trees.

Servilio. O! O! O! O!

Bianca. After the face, make haste below for low

Indignities I hesitate to name.

Riccardatto. No doubt a lady's sense of shame forbids Her servant to make bold a second time, So that executors must dull the edge Of any further fancy of that kind.

Bianca. Aim rather for the bony part. Let him Not bleed to death, but sit in pain just so, A groaning palsied grandfather of lust, Remembering how once unseemly he Reached for the hem, the bones recovering As limply to his surgeon he weeps hard.

Servilio. I thought I lived, illusion of the dead.- O! O! Do not remove me so beyond The measure roughly, sirs.

Baizzo. We understand. A lady's shame forbids To name that part she was offended with. We will aim lower, to fill on each side A sack of random bones, no leg at all.

Servilio. No part of me will yet forget this day.

Baizzo. He faints.

Riccardatto. Should we revive the culprit for worse pains?

Bianca. Tomorrow on his second course of woe.

Baizzo. Both of us married to your pleasures here.

Exeunt Bianca, Baizzo, and Riccardatto, the latter two carrying away Servilio

Act 2. Scene 3. Agostino's house

Enter Clara and Noce-Moscata

Clara. Your suitor hastes apace.

Noce-Moscata. I will not glance at him.

Clara. Your father much desires you do and more.

Noce-Moscata. Why? To be married?

Clara. Quickly and well.

Noce-Moscata. I will not do it.

Clara. No?

Noce-Moscata. I refuse even to advance one toe on the large circular road leading towards that narrow path.

Clara. "She will see him and like him," declares your father, "or else we will heave her out of the house, whether in summer or winter, day or night, to workhouse or brothel, I care little, so long as this no-daughter becomes invisible."

Noce-Moscata. Huh! I accept no man's hand held in mine,

Or any other part, seen or unseen.

Clara. We will soon know who reigns or challenges.

Exit Clara

Noce-Moscata. A toad, I wager.

Re-enter Clara with Decio

Clara. Here stands our Decio, your intended love.

Noce-Moscata. Huh!

Clara. Make much of this gentleman, daughter.

Noce-Moscata. With what?

Exit Clara

Decio. Good morrow, fairest one.

Noce-Moscata. Ho, fairest slave, I want no part of man.

Decio. And yet your father-

Noce-Moscata. Let graves swallow fathers and spit out their bones to make us dice.

Decio. I was led to believe-

Noce-Moscata. Believe nothing except that I loathe your presence on this earth.

Decio. I am disliked before once opening My mouth, it seems.

Noce-Moscata. Much truer than you guess.

Decio. Your virtue wilts before another man's Sun, I assume.

Noce-Moscata. Believe no such matter of me. You are hated for your own face, not because I like another's.

Decio. Is it possible I have unwittingly offended you, though to my knowledge without ever having met you even once before?

Noce-Moscata. Your eyelids mock me, as do both ear-lobes, To be elaborated on if you Remain before my eyes another day.

Decio. I do.

Noce-Moscata. And so we are agreed.

Decio. Most perfectly: one face against the other.

Noce-Moscata. Thieves in monkey-nakedness, casual violators, whoremaster villains!

You ogle. Do you not already long To touch and kiss?

Decio. Uninterruptedly.

Noce-Moscata. Your oar is broken: swim back home ashore.

Decio. So beautiful yet cursed?

Noce-Moscata. You dangle on frayed ropes: ask help below.

Decio. I will next wrestle with a crocodile.

Noce-Moscata. You dream of licking my thighs, do you not? I may be weak enough to tremble at

Such thoughts as that, and therefore I decline To smell you even nearer if I can.

Decio. Should I not advance? Is it not expected from any untouched by amorrhea, as you appear to be?

Noce-Moscata. You would delight to see me naked, no?

Decio. For most parts of the body, not the tongue.

Noce-Moscata. You court us to abuse, like rubies kept With dust in cellar chests, out when you wish, Down when you wish, your wife, half-slave, half-whore.

Decio. Only your fears malign us needlessly.

Noce-Moscata. Like sops to feed and nurse man's treachery!

Decio. I would not think so.

Noce-Moscata. Winkers among each other, plotters against our againsts, forswearers to our detriment.

Exit Decio and enter Agostino

Agostino. So, daughter, I am glad to see you well.

Noce-Moscata. Ho, am I even seen before I wed?

Agostino. Your mother finds our choicest suitor ripe, The eggplant on Aostan patches that You are invited to mix with your cheese. How zealous-dextrously that youth pursues His hope your mother made me understand. Not I for secrets maidens care to keep Close to the heart, not I for eavesdropping! The boy's experience ripens homemade stews, Which bodes well, not like Nero's, and yourself No humor like Poppea's, bathing hair And limb in tubs of ass-milk to stay fine, Should Cassius Dio be believed for once. The ceremony finds you Tuesday noon, Or else perhaps next Thursday. To make sure, Just a few uncles and aunts got my note. No need of our disbursing to the town At large, since onions and some pepper flakes Should spice as well as banquets! And so off To wedded life, delight of fools and wits Alike! And what a life it is, sometimes Our pageantry of glee, sometimes too worse, But maidens need not meditate on that As yet, but think instead of jollities.

Noce-Moscata. And so I should if once invited to.

What of Giacomo?

Agostino. Forever nullified for lack of funds.

Noce-Moscata. What of Giacobo?

Agostino. A waster with no money.

Noce-Moscata. Thus Decio stays.

Agostino. Your mother will divulge what to watch for This day, that night, and what a day it is, And what a night! The senses stir on that.

Noce-Moscata. Not mine this day, nor yet tomorrow morn.

Agostino. Although I feel a twinge of melancholy Imagining the body pressed down flat By a mere stranger's, but yet what of this? Your mother left her father, so will soon Your daughter. No inn keeps the coach of time: We ride, none knowing where, but yet to quit The father and the mother is a change Most hope for, offering few thanks for it.

Noce-Moscata. I cannot thank for what I will not keep.

Agostino. You will not keep him? How, after my care And preparations? Do you ponder on Agreements with his father sealed in wax, Your mother half the wooer for your love? Have I no daughter? All this not meant for You and the nation's happiness? I find I am egregiously wronged here, or else I hear of dream-amazements no one once Spoke of to me, or kept the secret of.

Noce-Moscata. As I am now, so I intend to stay.

Agostino. What do such daughters mean? A daughter? No, I have none. She is buried, or should be. What have you done? Made two such families Impossible to chime together, not To be set right if I should try again.

Noce-Moscata. I could cry on it, or else lightly laugh.

Agostino. Out of my sight!

Noce-Moscata. Consider me alone: how will I live?

Agostino. Live? Study on how virgins die instead.

Noce-Moscata. Ha, should it please you to consider-

Agostino. I will consider this: I am no more A father, having been annulled of that Most heavy charge by you, and none but you. What is authority? Is it to be Responded to whenever one may please To listen? Go. Make pillows of the stones On common byways.

Noce-Moscata. Alone, I may not live out till next week.

Agostino. Why should you live?

Noce-Moscata. Or else like whores do, which to me becomes A maiden worse than sickness well received.

Agostino. I'll whistle till you leave.

Exeunt Agostino and Noce-Moscata