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David Bruce: John Ford’s THE LADY’S TRIAL: A Retelling — Act 5, Scene 2, and Epilogue (Conclusion)

— 5.2 —

Trelcatio, Malfato, Spinella, and Castanna met together in an apartment in Trelcatio’s house.

Trelcatio said, “Kinsman and ladies, have a little patience. All will be as you wish; I guarantee it. Fear nothing; Auria is a noble fellow. I leave you, but know that I will be within hearing distance. Take courage.”

He exited.

“Courage!” an unhappy Malfato said. “They who have no hearts find no hearts and courage to lose; ours is as great as that of the man who defies danger most.

“Surely, state and ceremony inhabit here. Like strangers, we shall await a formal reception.”

They were close friends and relatives to Lord Auria and ought to be given a friendly, not a formal, reception.

Malfato said to Spinella, “Cousin, let us return to my house; this treatment of us is paltry.”

Spinella said, “Gentle sir, restrain your passion; only I have the duty to be here.”

Castanna said, “Now, for heaven’s sake, sister!”

Lord Auria and Aurelio entered the room.

Castanna said, “He comes — your husband comes. Take comfort, sister.”

“Malfato!” Lord Auria said.

“Auria!” Malfato said.

Lord Auria embraced Malfato and then replied, “Cousin, I wish that my arms in their embraces might at once deliver affectionately what interest your merit holds in my estimation!”

In other words, Lord Auria was telling Malfato that he regarded him highly.

“I may chide the shyness of this intercourse between us that a retired privacy on your part has pleased to show.”

In other words, Lord Auria was telling Malfato that he regretted that the two were not closer. Malfato had been keeping to himself rather than sometimes meeting with Lord Auria.

Most likely, the reason was that Lord Auria had married the woman Malfato loved.

Lord Auria added, “If I can do anything that would cause you to have a kind opinion of me, I shall honor the means and practice — I will do it.”

“That ‘anything’ is your charity and love,” Malfato said.

“Worthy Malfato!” Aurelio said.

“Provident Aurelio!” Malfato said.

“Castanna, virtuous maiden!” Lord Auria said.

“I am your servant, brother-in-law,” Castanna said.

Spinella knelt before Lord Auria.

Lord Auria asked, “But who’s that other?”

“That other” was his wife: Spinella. Lord Auria was asking this question because his wife was kneeling before him. He preferred a more equal relationship.

Lord Auria said, “Such a face my eyes have been acquainted with; the sight resembles something that is not quite lost to remembrance.

“Why does the lady kneel? To whom does she kneel?

“Please rise. I shall forget my civil manners because of imagining that you tender to me a false tribute, or because of imagining that the man to whom you tender it is a counterfeit — an imposter.”

How could Lord Auria be a counterfeit — an imposter? He was a loving husband, but he would not seem sometimes to be a loving husband during this “trial” of his wife. Yet all he was doing was done for the purpose of restoring his wife’s reputation.

Spinella’s kneeling to him could be a “false tribute” in that he would seem to be persecuting her at times although everything he did was intended to clear her name.

His wife rose.

Malfato objected to Lord Auria’s pretending not to know his own wife; of course, Lord Auria knew his own wife! Pretending not to know her seemed to be putting on a show of power over her.

Malfato said, “My lord, you use a borrowed bravery that does not lead to generous interpretations. May your fortunes mount higher than apprehension can reach them!”

Lord Auria did not seem to be acting intelligently, and so Malfato wished that his fortunes in life would prove to be better than his intelligence.

Malfato continued, “Yet this waste kind of antic sovereignty over a wife who equals the best of your deserts, achievements, or prosperity, reveals a barrenness of noble nature. Let upstarts exercise uncomely roughness and rudeness; clear spirits to the humble will be humble. You know your wife, no doubt.”

Of course, Malfato meant “know” in the sense of “recognize,” but the Biblical “know” means to “know sexually.”

Lord Auria used sexual puns in his answer to Malfato:

“I cry for your mercy, gentleman!

“Probably, you have come to tutor a good carriage, and are expert in the nick of it. We shall study your instructions quaintly.”

To “tutor a good carriage” means to “teach good manners”; “carriage” can also refer to carrying a man’s weight in bed while in the missionary position, and “carriage” can refer to carrying a baby.

The work “nick” means “essential part,” and the word “quaintly” means “assiduously.”

The word “nick” can refer to the vulva, and the word “quaint” can also refer to the vulva.

Lord Auria continued, “You said, ‘Wife’? I agree to that. Continue to be fair, and attend the trial.”

This was the first time Spinella had heard the word “trial.” She could guess that it was she who was on trial, and this made her angry. What would be a good reason for a husband to put his wife on trial?

Spinella said, “Those words raise a lively soul in her who almost yielded to faintness and numbness. I thank you for that.

“Prove, though, what you will judge; until I can purge objections that require belief and conscience, I have no kindred, sister, husband, friend, or pity for my plea.”

Spinella wanted her husband to be a fair judge: one who looked at real evidence. She also knew that she needed to get rid of objections against her — serious objections that were held with belief and conscience. By doing so, she could make herself clean again.

To make clear that she wanted no special considerations during the trial, she said that she would have “no kindred, sister, husband, friend, or pity for my plea.”

Malfato said, not to Spinella, “Do you call this a welcome?”

He then said, “We have been mistaken in what we thought would happen here, Castanna.”

Castanna said, “Oh, my lord, other things were promised!”

Lord Auria said to his wife, “Lady, did you say, ‘No kindred, sister, husband, friend’?”

Spinella said, “Nor name.”

She would not have the name of “wife.” She would have no title that would come from being the wife of Lord Auria, who was now a lord.

The word “name” also meant “reputation.” She did not want her reputation, good or bad, to be used for or against her.

She continued, “With this addition — I disclaim all benefit of mercy from a charitable thought if one or all of the subtleties of malice, if any engineer of faithless discord, if supposition for pretense in folly can point out, without injury to goodness, a likelihood of guilt in my behavior that may declare neglect in every duty required, fit, or exacted.”

“The subtleties of malice” are “the tricks and schemes that come from the intention to do evil.”

“Any engineer of faithless discord” means “anyone who creates perfidious and disloyal disharmony between people” — in this case, between a husband and wife.

“Supposition for pretense in folly” means “assumption of a claim in foolishness” — that is, foolishly assuming something.

In other words, if she were found guilty for whatever reason — and those reasons would be unfair — then let no mercy be shown to her.

Lord Auria said about Spinella and her words, “High and peremptory! The confidence is masculine.”

“And why not?” Malfato said. “An honorable cause gives life to truth without control.”

“I can proceed,” Spinella said.

She had more to say.

She continued, “That tongue whose venom has spread the infection by traducing spotless honor, is not more my enemy than their, or his, weak and besotted brains are on whom the poison of its cankered falsehood has wrought to procure belief in so foul a mischief.”

Who were her enemies? One was Aurelio, whose tongue gave voice to words when he broke into the chamber in which Spinella and Lord Adurni were alone. Other enemies were the brains of those on whom Aurelio’s poison had worked to produce belief that she was unchaste. As far as she knew, those brains possibly included the brains of her husband, Lord Auria.

Spinella continued, “Speak, sir, you who are the churlish voice of this combustion, Aurelio, speak. And, gentle sir, don’t keep back anything that you know, but roundly use your eloquence against a mean defendant.”

The word “mean” can mean 1) abject, 2) inferior in rank, 3) inferior in quality, 4) inferior in ability, 5) poor, 6) badly off, and/or 7) debased.

Observing Aurelio, Malfato said, “He’s put to it. It seems the challenge gravels him.”

Aurelio was under strain and perplexed.

Aurelio said, “The information I gave came from my doubts and fears, not from any actual knowledge I had.”

This was an important admission: He had no actual knowledge that seduction or attempted seduction had occurred. He had given information based on surmise.

He continued, “A self-confession of one’s faults may ask for assistance.”

A person who confesses sins to a priest can ask for absolution. A person can ask another person for forgiveness.

He continued, “Let the lady’s justice impose the penance.”

A priest can impose penance in the form of such things as saying the Hail Mary prayer. A non-Catholic can impose a different kind of penance.

Aurelio continued, “So, in the rules of friendship as of love, suspicion is not seldom an improper advantage for knitting more firmly fixed joints of the most faithful affection, by the fevers of casualty unloosed, where lastly error has run into the toil.”

Suspicion can make relationships, whether of friendship or of love, stronger.

A casualty is an unfortunate occurrence.

Aurelio was saying that once the unfortunate occurrence of suspicion had caused trouble but had then run its course, with the error of unfounded suspicion being combatted and defeated, then relationships could become stronger.

Spinella said, “That is woeful satisfaction for a divorce of hearts!”

A future better relationship was small compensation for what she was going through now: a divorce between her heart and Lord Auria’s heart.

Lord Auria said, “Are you so resolute? I shall touch nearer home: Behold these hairs.”

His hair was beginning to grow white.

He continued, “They are great masters of a spirit.”

John Conington translated Horace’s Carmina, Book 3, Poem 14, lines 25-26 in this way:

Soon palls the taste for noise and fray,

When hair is white and leaves are sere:

In other words, white hair has a calming effect on a man: The man no longer wishes for noise and fights.

To some extent, this was true of Lord Auria. He was willing to leave home and fight Turkish pirates, but he wanted quiet and peace at home.

Lord Auria continued speaking to Spinella, with the others listening, “Yet my few white hairs are not by the winter of old age quite hidden in snow, although I must acknowledge that some messengers of time took up lodging among black hairs.

“When we first exchanged our faiths in wedlock, I was proud I had prevailed with one whose youth and beauty deserved a choice more suitable in both.”

He was saying that Spinella deserved a husband who was both younger and better looking than he was.

Lord Auria continued, “Advancement to a fortune could not court ambition either on my side or hers.”

According to Lord Auria’s words, neither he nor his wife had married for money.

Lord Auria continued, “Love drove the bargain, and the truth of love confirmed it, I conceived.

“But disproportion in years among the married is a reason for change of pleasures. To this I reply that our union was not forced, it was by consent, and so then the breach in such a case appears unpardonable.”

If Spinella had sought a younger lover because of Lord Auria’s age, that would be unpardonable because their match had been a love match. Adultery would be more understandable if she had married him for his money — both knew that she had not done this because he had not been wealthy.

Lord Auria said to Spinella, “Say your thoughts.”

Spinella said, “My thoughts in that respect are as resolute as yours; they are the same.

“Yet herein evidence of frailty did not more greatly deserve a separation than does charge of disloyalty objected without either any ground or witness.”

The phrase “evidence of frailty” was ambiguous. It could mean 1) evidence that someone had been frail and weak — for example, in resisting the temptation to commit adultery, or 2) the evidence itself is frail and weak.

The “charge of disloyalty objected” was ambiguous. It could mean 1) the charge of objected — hated — disloyalty, 2) the charge of disloyalty objected to — rebuffed. In either case, the phrase “without either any ground or witness” applied.

Spinella’s next words referred to two possible faults: one concerning a woman, and one concerning a man. In this context, we can guess that she is referring to these specific faults: 1) a woman who has been accused of infidelity, and 2) a man who believes the accusation without any evidence.

Spinella said, “Women’s faults subject to punishments and men’s faults applauded prescribe no laws in force.”

In other words: No enacted laws prescribe that women’s faults be subject to punishments and that men’s faults be applauded.

Or: Women’s faults subject to punishments and men’s faults applauded decree no laws in force.

Any law that subjects women’s faults to punishment and men’s faults to applause is unfair.

Aurelio asked, “Are you so nimble?”

The word “nimble” can be positive or negative.

A person can defend him- or herself fairly and rationally — or through seeking a loophole.

Malfato said, “A soul purged of dross by competition, such as mighty Auria’s soul is famed, descends from its own sphere, when injuries, profound ones, yield to the combat of a scolding mastery: a skirmish of words.

“Has your wife lewdly ranged, adulterating the honor of your bed? If so, then withhold dispute, but execute your vengeance with unresisted rage. We shall look on. Allow that the fact is true, and spurn her from our bloods.

“Otherwise, if proof of infidelity is not detected, you have wronged her innocence unworthily and childishly, for which I challenge satisfaction.”

Malfato was willing to fight a duel with Lord Auria on account of Spinella.

Castanna said about Lord Auria, “It is a tyranny to ungently insult a humble and obedient sweetness.”

As she talked, Lord Adurni entered the room. He could guess who was being insulted: Spinella.

Lord Adurni said, “That I will make good, and I must without exception find admittance fitting the party who has herein interest.”

He meant that he would turn aside that insult and replace it with good. In addition, he would fix things so that the party being insulted would find admittance into the hearts of everyone present.

Lord Adurni said, “Let’s assume I was in fault. If I were at fault, then that fault stretched merely to a misguided thought.”

If he were at fault, he had committed no faulty action; he had merely thought of actions that were faulty.

He continued, “And who in this room, except the pair of fair and matchless sisters, Spinella and Castanna, can clear themselves of an imputation of similar folly and foolishness?”

He had done nothing that no man present had not also done: He had sinned in his mind.

Lord Adurni continued, “Here I ask your pardon, excellent Spinella. I ask pardon of only you.

“Your pardon being granted to me, then any man among you who calls for an even reckoning shall meet an even accountant.”

He was asking for the pardon of Spinella only; once that pardon was granted, if any man still held anything against him, he would fight that man.

Lord Auria said, “Am I being tormented by a conspiracy of people? I must have my right.”

Spinella said to Lord Auria, “And I must have my right, my lord. My lord, what trouble and disturbance is here! You can suspect —”

Suspect whom? Spinella.

She continued speaking to her husband, “— and so reconciliation between us, then, is unwanted. Conclude the difference by taking revenge, or by parting, and we shall never more see one another.”

She then said, “Sister, lend me thine arm. I have assumed a courage above my power and ability, and I can hold out no longer.”

She had pretended to have a strength she did not possess.

She then said, “Auria, unkind! Unkind!”

Spinella collapsed.

“She faints,” Castanna said.

Lord Auria picked her up and put her on a couch.

She regained consciousness.

“Spinella!” he said. “Regent of my affections, thou have conquered in this trial. I find thy virtues as I left them, perfect, pure, and unflawed; for instance, let me claim Castanna’s promise.”

He would show how highly he regarded his wife, Spinella, by doing something good for her sister, Castanna.

“My promise?” Castanna asked.

Lord Auria replied, “Yours, to whose faith I am a guardian, but not by imposition. Instead, you chose me to be your guardian. Look, I have fitted a husband for you, noble and deserving.”

The word “fitted” could mean 1) made suitable and fitting, or 2) forced by fits. The word “fits” could mean “the process of fitting.”

Lord Auria had made Lord Adurni a suitable husband for Castanna, perhaps through force, or the force of persuasion.

Lord Auria said, “No shrinking back.”

Was he speaking to Lord Adurni or to Castanna or to both?

Lord Auria then said, “Lord Adurni, I present Castanna; she will be a wife of worth.”

“What’s that?” Malfato said.

Lord Adurni said to Lord Auria, “So great a blessing crowns all desires of life.”

He then said to Castanna, “This offer of marriage, lady, I can assure you, is not sudden to me; instead, it is welcomed and forethought. I wish that you could please to say the same!”

Lord Auria said, “Castanna, do. Speak, dearest. It rectifies all crooked vain surmises.”

Lord Auria was overstating this. True, marriage to Castanna could help rectify things. If Lord Adurni had wanted to marry Castanna for a while, then perhaps his behavior when alone with Spinella had been misunderstood.

Trying to seduce a woman’s sister does not facilitate romance with that woman.

Lord Auria said again to Castanna, “I ask you to please speak.”

Spinella said, “The courtship’s somewhat quick, and the match seems agreed on.”

The people who had agreed that Lord Adurni should marry Castanna were Lord Auria and Lord Adurni.

Spinella continued, “Do not, sister, reject the use of fate.”

Castanna said, “I dare not question the will of Heaven.”

Malfato said about the upcoming marriage, “Unthought-of and unlooked-for!”

“My ever-honored lord!” Spinella said to her husband.

Aurelio said, “This marriage frees each circumstance of jealousy.”

Aurelio was overstating this. True, if Lord Adurni were to marry Castanna, then since he had a wife at home, a wife who was Spinella’s sister, he would be less likely to lust after Spinella. Still, though it is rare, some men commit adultery with their wife’s sister.

Lord Auria said, “Make no scruple, Castanna, about the choice of Lord Adurni as a husband. It is firm and real.

“Why else have I so long with tameness nourished report of wrongs, except that I fixed on issue of my desires?”

He had nourished gossip by not taking action such as fighting a duel, but he had not taken action because he wanted better outcomes: Spinella’s name cleared, and friendship restored among all the people now present.

A marriage alliance between Lord Auria and Lord Adurni would help maintain peace. They would be brothers-in-law.

Lord Auria continued, “Italians use not dalliance, but execution.”

Italians are quick to fight.

He continued, “Herein I degenerated from the custom of our nation.”

“Degenerate” is a stronger, more negative word than “deviate.”

He had not acted the way many Italians would have acted. Why not?

He continued, “Because the virtues of my Spinella are rooted in my soul. Not rooted in my soul is the common form of matrimonial compliments, which are short-lived, as are their pleasures.”

The common form of matrimonial compliments, whatever they are, is superficial. These compliments and their pleasures are short-lived. Possibly, these are the matrimonial compliments that are given between husband and wife when a marriage takes place because the husband has money and the wife has beauty.

Lord Auria said to Spinella, “Yet, truly, my dearest, I might blame your needless absence. My love and nature were no strangers to you.

“But since you were in the house of Malfato, your kinsman, I honor his hospitable friendship, and I must thank it.

“May we now have a lasting truce on all hands.”

Aurelio said to Spinella, “You will pardon a rash and over-busy curiosity and nosiness.”

He was admitting that he was at fault, and he was asking for her forgiveness.

Spinella said, “That was to blame, but the successful and happy outcome we see here pardons it.”

Lord Adurni said to Malfato, “Sir, what presumptions formerly have grounded opinion of unfitting carriage to you, on my part I shall faithfully acquit at easy summons.”

He was using legal terminology to say that he hoped Malfato would change his opinion of him, which formerly had been unfavorable. He knew that Malfato loved Spinella and blamed him for what at least seemed to be an attempt to seduce her.

Malfato said, “You act early and so forestall the need for any fancy apologies. Use your own pleasure.”

This meant: Do what you want to do.

Malfato had seemed shocked when Lord Auria had given Castanna to be Lord Adurni’s wife. Possibly, Malfato had been interested in her. Possibly, Lord Adurni knew that.

Benazzi rushed in with his sword drawn, followed by Levidolce and Martino.

“What’s the matter?” Aurelio asked.

“Matter?” Lord Auria asked.

“Lord Adurni and Malfato found together!” Benazzi said. “Now for a glorious vengeance.”

“Hold him! Oh, hold him!” Levidolce said.

Apparently, Levidolce’s plan had been to have Benazzi kill Lord Adurni and Malfato. If so, she may have changed her mind just as her plan seemed to be playing out. But was this reformation, if it was one, genuine, or was it a “reformation”? And had Martino agreed to assist in a plot to murder Lord Adurni and Malfato? That seems unlikely.

“This is no place for murder,” Aurelio said to Benazzi. “Yield thy sword.”

“Yield it, or I will force it,” Lord Auria said.

Lord Auria disarmed Benazzi and then asked him, “Do you set up your shambles of slaughter in my presence?”

A shambles is a slaughterhouse.

“Let him come at me,” Lord Adurni said.

“What can the ruffian mean?” Malfato asked.

“I have been prevented from getting my vengeance,” Benazzi said. “If I had not been, then the temple or the chamber of the Duke would not have proved to be a sanctuary.

“Lord Adurni, thou have dishonorably wronged my wife.”

“Thy wife!” Lord Adurni said. “I don’t know her, and I don’t know thee.”

He did not recognize Benazzi and so he did not know to whom Benazzi was married.

“Fear nothing,” Lord Auria said.

To whom was he speaking? Spinella and Castanna? Levidolce? If Levidolce, he was saying this: Don’t be afraid to speak up.

Levidolce said to Lord Adurni, “Yes, you know me. Heaven has a gentle mercy for penitent offenders.”

She then said, “Blessed ladies, don’t regard me as a cast-off reprobate, although once I fell into some lapses that our sex are often entangled by, yet what I have been concerns me now no more, for I am resolved to lead a new life.

“This gentleman, Benazzi, disguised as you see, I have remarried.”

She said to Benazzi, “I knew you at first sight, and now I offer my constant submission to you on account of all my errors.”

Martino said to Lord Adurni, “It is true, sir.”

Benazzi said, “I take joy in this revelation that Levidolce recognized me, and I am thankful for the change in Levidolce.”

Lord Auria said, “Let wonder henceforth cease, for I am partner with Benazzi’s counsels, and in them I was the director.”

Lord Auria was saying that he had planned with Benazzi some of Benazzi’s actions, probably including pretending to want to kill Lord Adurni and Malfato. He may have done that as a test of Levidolce’s character: Would she object when the murders seemed about to occur?

Or he was lying because he had recognized Benazzi as a man who had performed good service for him and whom he would like to rescue from severe and perhaps capital punishment.

He continued, “I have seen the man do service in the wars recently past that were worthy of an ample mention — but more about that hereafter; repetitions now of good or bad would constrict time, time for which we have other uses.”

Martino said to Benazzi, “Welcome, and welcome forever!”

Levidolce said to Benazzi, “My eyes, sir, shall never receive a look from yours without a blush.”

She said to all present, “Please forget all these rash actions; such actions were mine, and only mine.”

Much forgiveness was taking place, and Malfato joined in.

“You’ve found a way to happiness,” Malfato said to Lord Adurni. “I honor your conversion.”

“Then I am freed,” Lord Adurni said to Malfato.

Malfato replied, “You may call me your friend and your servant.”

He had forgiven Lord Adurni.

Martino said, “Now all that’s mine is theirs.”

He welcomed Benazzi as the husband of his great-niece, both of whom would inherit his wealth.

Lord Adurni said, “But let me add an offering to the altar of this peace.”

He gave Benazzi and Levidolce money.

Lord Auria asked, “How does Spinella like this? This holiday — special day — of ours deserves to be remembered in the calendar.”

Spinella said, “This reformed gentlewoman — Levidolce — must live fair and worthy in my thoughts.”

She said to Levidolce, “And indeed you shall.”

Castanna said to Levidolce, “And you will live fair and worthy in my thoughts; your reformation requires a friendly love.”

Levidolce said to the two sisters, “You’re kind and bountiful.”

Trelcatio, Futelli, Amoretta, and Piero entered the room, driving in Fulgoso and Guzman.

Trelcatio said, “By your leaves, lords and ladies, I will increase your jollities by bringing mine, too.

“Here’s a youngster whom I call my son-in-law, for so my daughter will have it.”

He presented Futelli to the group.

Amoretta lisped, “Yeth, in sooth, thee will.”

Futelli and she would be married.

Trelcatio said, “Futelli has weaned her from this pair: Fulgoso and Guzman.”

Piero said, “Stand forth, resolute lovers.”

Futelli and Amoretta stood forth.

Trelcatio said, “They are a top and top-gallant pair — and for his pains she will have him or none. He’s not the richest in the parish; but he is a wit: I say ‘Amen’ because I cannot help it.”

Why couldn’t he help it? Possibly: 1) he was so happy that he could not help saying it, or 2) he was so unhappy that he could not help saying it.

Chances are, he did not especially want Futelli for a son-in-law, but because he could not prevent the marriage, he accepted it.

Amoretta said, “Tith no matter.”

Lord Auria said, “We’ll remedy the penury of fortune. Futelli and Amoretta shall go with us to Corsica. Our cousin Amoretta must not despair of means, since it is believed that Futelli can deserve a place of trust.”

Is there evidence that Futelli can deserve a place of trust? Futelli had won Amoretta’s love, and he had stopped her excessive interest in princes and the number of horses pulling their carriages. Still, he had done this as a result of what seemed like a cruel practical joke.

Futelli said to Lord Auria, “You are in all unfellowed.”

He meant, “You are in everything without an equal.”

Or, if he had not heard the good news of Lord Auria and Spinella’s reconciliation, and if he suspected that Lord Auria was being sarcastic, he meant, “You are in everything without a marriage partner.”

Amoretta lisped, “Withely thpoken.”

Piero said to Lord Auria, “Think about Piero, sir.”

It seemed that Lord Auria was giving Futelli a chance to advance; Piero also wanted a chance to advance.

Lord Auria said, “Piero, yes.”

He then asked about Fulgoso and Guzman, “But what about these two pretty ones?”

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “I’ll follow the ladies, play at cards, entertain myself, and whistle.”

He was not one to follow a military leader.

He continued, “My wealth shall carry me throughout my life: A lazy life is scurvy and debauched.”

He was OK with living a lazy, scurvy, and debauched life.

Fulgoso continued, “You go ahead and fight abroad. We’ll be gaming at home while you fight. However the dice fall — high or low — here is a brain that can do it.”

Do what? Seek entertainment every day.

He then said, “But for my martial brother Don Guzman, please make him a — what do you call it — a setting dog? No, a sentinel. I’ll mend his weekly pay by adding to it.”

Guzman the Spaniard said, “He shall deserve it.”

“He” referred to himself: He was now humbler than when he used the majestic plural, and he was saying that he would do good work and so he would earn the increased salary.

He then said to Lord Auria, “Vouchsafe to me honorable employment.”

Fulgoso the Parvenu said to Lord Auria, “By the Virgin Mary, the Don’s a generous Don.”

Lord Auria said, “It would be unfitting to lose him.”

Yes, he would give Guzman a job.

He then said to all present, “The duties of command limit us to enjoy only a short time for revels. We must be thrifty in enjoying the revels and not waste the time allotted for them.

“No one, I trust, is discontent at these delights; they’re free and harmless.

“After distress at sea, the dangers over, safety and welcomes taste better ashore.”


The court’s on rising; it is too late

To wish the lady in her fate

Of trial now more fortunate.

A verdict in the jury’s breast

Will be given up anon [soon] at least;

Till then it is fit we hope the best.

Else if there can be any stay,

Next sitting without more delay,

We will expect a gentle day.



One trial has taken place: the trial of Spinella. The outcome was extremely good for Spinella and everyone else involved in the trial.

But another trial is taking place — in the theater. The play has ended, and so the evidence has been given in the form of acting and directing and producing. Now the jury — the audience — must judge whether the play is good or bad. They will render their decision in the form of applause (or in some cases, lack of it). The actor performing the epilogue hopes for “a gentle day” — a successful play.


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David Bruce: John Ford’s THE LADY’S TRIAL: A Retelling — Act 5, Scene 1

— 5.1 —

Martino, Benazzi, and Levidolce talked together in a room in Martino’s house. Benazzi and Levidolce had entered Martino’s house, and Martino had no idea who Benazzi was: He thought that Benazzi was a bandit and that he and Levidolce had come to rob and murder him. Benazzi still dressed like and looked like a bandit, and so Martino did not recognize him.

Martino said, “Ruffian, get out of my house! Thou have come to rob me.

“Police! Help!

“My house is haunted by a vulgar pack of thieves, harlots, murderers, rogues, and vagabonds!

“I foster and care for a decoy here, and she trolls on her ragged customer to cut my throat for pillage.”

The decoy was Levidolce, whom he had reared and whom he thought had lured him into a trap in which he would be murdered and robbed.

“To troll” can mean 1) “to move the tongue nimbly,” or 2) “to move with a rolling action.”

Martino was saying that Levidolce had urged the bandit to rob him, and he was implying that she had moved sexually in bed with the bandit.

The ragged customer was Benazzi.

In this society, “customer” could mean companion, but Martino was now and would continue to insult Levidolce by both implying and openly stating that she was a whore.

“Good sir, hear me,” Levidolce said.

Benazzi said, “Hear or not hear — let him rave his lungs out!

“While this woman has abode under this roof, I will justify myself as her bedfellow in despite of denial — in despite: Those are my words.”

“Monstrous!” Martino said to Benazzi. “What, sirrah, do I keep a bawdy-house? Do I keep a hospital for panders?”

He then said to Levidolce, “Oh, thou monster! Thou she-confusion! Thou female bringer of ruin and destruction! Have you grown so unrestrained that, from a private wanton, thou proclaim thyself a baggage for all gamesters, lords or gentlemen, strangers or home-spun yeomen, footposts, pages, roarers, or hangmen?”

“Roarers” were roaring boys who drank and fought.

She had had an affair with Lord Adurni; now Martino was accusing her of being a prostitute who would sleep with anyone.

Martino then said, “Hey! Set up shop, and then cry, ‘This market is open, go to it, and welcome!’”

“This is my husband,” Levidolce said.

“Husband!” Martino said.

Benazzi said, “I am her natural husband. I have married her, and what’s your verdict on the match, signor?”

“Husband, and married her!” Martino said.

“Indeed, it is the truth,” Levidolce said.

To Martino, it seemed as if his great-niece had married a bandit.

Martino said sarcastically, “A proper joining! A fine marriage! May God give you joy, great mistress. Your fortunes are advanced, indeed, are they? What jointure is assured, please tell me? Some three thousand each year in oaths and vermin? A fair advancement!”

A jointure is an estate for a wife to live on if her husband dies.

Martino continued, “Was there ever such a tattered rag of man’s flesh patched up for copesmate to my great-niece’s daughter!”

A copesmate is 1) a marriage partner, 2) a partner in cheating and swindling, 3) a paramour, and/or 4) an enemy.

Levidolce said, “Sir, for my mother’s name forbear this anger: Even if I have yoked myself beneath your wishes, my choice is still a lawful one, and I will live as truly chaste to his bosom as ever my faith has bound me.”

Not convinced, Martino said, “A sweet couple!”

“We are a sweet couple,” Benazzi said.

He had been a soldier, and as such, he had protected people such as Martino; he regarded himself as a worthy husband for Levidolce.

Benazzi said, “As for my own part, although my outside appears shabby, I have wrestled with death, Signor Martino, in order to preserve your sleeps, and such as you are, untroubled.

“A soldier is a mockery in peacetime, a very town bull for laughter.”

The unemployed soldiers are treated like town fools and are laughed at. A “bull” is a ludicrous jest.

“Curmudgeons lay their baits for traps to prey on unthrifts and landed babies.”

“Unthrifts” are people who do not thrive, and “landed babies” are needy soldiers who have landed on the shores of Britain after fighting overseas. Many returned soldiers are vulnerable and dependent and so they are metaphorical babies.

Benazzi continued, “Let the wars rattle about your ears once, and the security of a soldier is very honorable among you then! That day may shine again. So let’s get on to my business.”

Martino said, “A soldier! Thou a soldier! I do believe thou are lousy; that’s a pretty sign, I grant.”

“Lousy” means “lice-ridden.” Staying lice-free is difficult for soldiers fighting during wars, as it is for bandits living rough in wooded areas.

Martino continued, “You are a villainous, poor banditorather, one who can man a whore, and speak the cant of thieves and beggars, and pick a pocket, walk softly after a man wearing a cloak or hat so you can steal it, and in the dark use a pistol to shoot a straggler for a quarter-ducat.”

A quarter-ducat is a very small amount of money.

Martino continued, “A soldier! Yes — he looks as if he lacks the spirit of a herring or a tumbler.”

Herrings are smoked, and one meaning of the verb “smoke” is to be angry or to fume.

A tumbler is 1) a species of hound that was used to catch rabbits, or 2) a person who lures someone into the hands of swindlers.

Benazzi said, “Let age and dotage rage together!

“Levidolce, thou are mine. On what conditions thou are mine, the world shall soon witness. Since our hands joined in betrothal, I have not yet exercised my right to the possession of thy bed; nor until I have carried out thy injunction to me do I intend to exercise my right.”

Levidolce had asked him to do something for her, and he had agreed. After he had done it, he would consummate their new marriage.

Benazzi said to her, “Kiss me quickly and resolutely! Good!”

He then said to Martino, “Adieu, signor!”

Levidolce said, “Dear, for love’s sake, stay.”

Benazzi replied, “Don’t ask me to stay.”

He exited, leaving Martino and Levidolce alone together.

Martino said, “Ah, thou — but what? I don’t know what to call thee. I would eagerly smother grief, but it must come out. My heart is broken. Thou have for many a day been at a loss, and now thou are lost forever — lost, lost, without recovery.”

Levidolce said, “With your pardon, let me restrain and hold back your sorrows.”

Martino replied, “It is impossible. Despair of rising up to honest reputation turns all the courses wild, and this last action will roar thy infamy and bad reputation.”

“This last action” was a bad marriage — a marriage to a bandit. He believed that she had married the bandit because she believed that she had lost her good reputation and could marry no one better.

He hesitated and then asked, “Then you are certainly married, indeed, to this newcomer?”

“Yes,” Levidolce said, “and herein every hope is brought to life that long has lain in deadness; I have once more wedded Benazzi, my divorced husband.”

“Benazzi!” Martino said. “This man is Benazzi?”

Levidolce said, “No odd disguise could guard him from discovery: I recognized him. This man is he, the choice of my ambition; may heaven keep me always thankful for such a bounty!

“So far he dreams not of this deceit — I have kept secret my recognition of him.

“But let me die in speaking, if I don’t believe that my success is happier than any earthly blessing.

“Oh, sweet great-uncle, rejoice with me! I am a faithful convert, and I will use love and true obedience to redeem the stains of a foul name. “

Martino said, “The force of passion shows me to be a child again.”

He was crying from happiness. Levidolce had remarried her former husband whom she had divorced, and she had vowed to reform.

He continued, “Do, Levidolce, perform thy resolutions; once those are performed, I have been only steward for your welfare. You shall have all between you.”

Levidolce and Benazzi would get all of his wealth.

Levidolce said, “Join with me, sir. Our plot requires much speed; we must be earnest. I’ll tell you what conditions threaten danger unless you intervene. Let us hasten, for fear we come too late.”

Levidolce had something big planned.

Martino said, “Since thou intend to reform and acquire a virtuous honesty, I am thy supporter in anything you want me to do, witty Levidolce, my great-niece, my witty great-niece.”

“Witty” means “intelligent.”

Levidolce said, “Let’s waste no time, sir.”


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David Bruce: John Ford’s THE LADY’S TRIAL: A Retelling — Act 4, Scene 3

— 4.3 —

Lord Auria, Lord Adurni, and Aurelio gathered together to talk about what had or had not happened when Lord Adurni was alone with Spinella, Lord Auria’s wife.

Each man had an agenda. Lord Auria wanted to clear his wife’s name. Lord Adurni wanted to avoid trouble with Lord Auria. Aurelio wanted to justify his actions to Lord Auria, and he wanted to remain friends with Lord Auria.

Of course, Lord Auria wanted to avoid trouble: Trouble would make it difficult to clear his wife’s name.

Lord Auria said to Lord Adurni, “You’re welcome, be assured you are; for proof, retrieve the boldness — as you please to term it — of visit to commands.”

There were two “visits to commands”: 1) Lord Auria had become powerful and had requested that Lord Adurni and Aurelio come to visit him. When a powerful man requests something, that request is often treated as a command. Another lord — that is, another powerful man — might object to this kind of request as “bold.” 2) Lord Adurni had requested that Spinella come to visit him, and when he was with her alone, he may have made his own “bold” request, whether of social intercourse or of sexual intercourse.

Lord Auria could avoid the charge of boldness by giving power to Lord Adurni — power such as having Aurelio leave the room.

Lord Auria, who wanted to keep the peace between him and Lord Adurni and to clear Spinella’s name was inviting Lord Adurni to retrieve — take back in some way — something such as a bad interpretation of what had happened during Spinella’s visit to him.

Lord Auria continued, “If this man’s presence isn’t useful, dismiss him.”

“This man” was Aurelio. If Lord Adurni wanted Aurelio to leave, Lord Auria would tell Aurelio to leave. This let Aurelio know that he was the least important man present.

Lord Adurni said, “It is important, if you don’t mind, my lord, that your friend witness how far my reputation stands engaged to noble reconcilement.”

He wanted to be reconciled to Lord Auria. With good reason, he believed that Lord Auria was angry at him.

Lord Adurni was also willing for Aurelio to be present.

Lord Auria said, “I observe no party here among us who can challenge a motion of such honor. No one here can object to friends being reconciled.”

This let Aurelio know that Lord Auria wanted to be reconciled to Lord Adurni.

Lord Adurni said, “Even if your looks could borrow clearer serenity and calmness than can the peace of a composed soul, yet I presume that report of my attempt, trained by a curiosity in youth for scattering clouds before them, has raised tempests that will at last break out.”

Lord Auria looked very calm, but even if Lord Auria could look calmer, which would be difficult, Lord Adurni worried that gossip about his attempt to do something not yet specified would have made Lord Auria angry and that his anger would eventually break out.

Some of what Lord Adurni had said was ambiguous.

This is one meaning:

I presume that report of my attempt at the seduction of your wife, which was a result of a trap I set because my youth made me want to acquire knowledge of what it would be like to have sex with her although such a desire for knowledge I ought not to have has had the result of gossip-scattering clouds that obscure clear serenity and calmness and the peace of a composed soul.

This is another meaning

I presume that Aurelio’s misleading report of my attempt at providing especially good hospitality, a report that was brought about because Aurelio, who was paying too much attention when keeping an eye on your wife and who was overly curious about what was happening between your wife and me behind closed doors, character traits that he apparently learned in youth, had the result of gossip-spreading clouds that obscure clear serenity and calmness and the peace of a composed soul.

These clouds in turn had formed storm clouds in Lord Auria’s mind.

When Lord Auria learned more about the attempt, not yet specified in words, Lord Auria’s storm clouds, now hidden, might entirely break out in violence.

Lord Auria said, “Those storm clouds are hidden now, most likely, in the darkness of your speech.”

The speech was dark in part because it was not clearly expressed. Also, the speech could very well be about seduction or attempted seduction.

Lord Adurni was feeling his way in the situation, deciding how best to proceed.

Aurelio said, “You may be plainer.”

He meant: You may speak more clearly and plainly.

But the word “plain,” when applied to non-material things such as power and justice, also means, according to theOxford English Dictionary, “full, complete, entire; perfect, absolute.”

Aurelio, therefore, was saying, “You may be more just.”

Lord Adurni replied, “I shall.”

He then said to Lord Auria, “My lord, that I intended wrong —”

Lord Auria said, “Ha! Wrong! To whom?”

Lord Adurni said, “To Auria, and as far as language could prevail, did —”

This conversation was dangerous. Lord Auria wanted to clear his wife’s name, not fight a duel with Lord Adurni. If Lord Adurni admitted to committing a certain type of wrong against Lord Auria, they would fight. Lord Auria wished to avoid a duel, but he was a brave and honorable man. If honor demanded that he fight, he would fight.

Lord Auria interrupted, “Take my advice, young lord, before thy tongue betray a secret concealed yet from the world.

“Hear and consider: In all my flight of vanity and giddiness, when the wings of my excess were scarcely fledged, when a bodily disturbance of youthful heat might have excused disorder and ambition, even then, and so from thence until now the down of softness is exchanged for plumes of confirmed and hardened age, I never dared pitch on any howsoever likely rest, where the presumption might be construed as the doing of wrong.”

Lord Auria was now a mature man, while Lord Adurni was a young man. Lord Auria was saying that ever since he was a young man and his youthful heat, or lust, might have excused some not-so-good behavior, even then, and up until now, he had avoided any kind of behavior and rest that could lead people to think that he was committing a sin.

One meaning of “to pitch” is “to thrust in,” as in driving a stake or nail into a solid body.

“Pitching behavior” can include sex.

The noun “rest” can mean a resting space for something. A penis can rest in a vagina during a pause between strenuous bouts of activity. Also, the bolt of a gate is slid into what this society called a “rest,” aka socket.

Rest can take place in bed after strenuous activity.

The words also continued the bird metaphor. The verb “pitch” can mean to “alight on the ground.” Birds can enjoy rest.

Lord Auria continued, “The word ‘wrong’ is hateful, and the sense wants pardon.”

Actions that are morally right do not want pardon: They don’t need it.

Lord Auria continued, “For, as I dared not wrong the meanest, so he who but only aimed by any boldness a wrong to me, would find I must not bear it: The one is as unmanly as the other.”

In other words: Be careful what you admit. If you admit the wrong thing, I will fight you. The wrong need not actually be accomplished, but only aimed at — intended.

He then said, “Now, continue without interruption.”

Lord Adurni said, “Stand, Aurelio, and justify thine accusation boldly. Spare me the needless use of my confession.”

This is intelligent. First let it clearly be said what you are accused of, and then respond to it. Otherwise, you may find yourself talking about wrongs you have not been accused of.

Lord Adurni continued, “And, having told no more than what thy jealousy possessed thee with, again before my face urge to thy friend — Auria — the breach of hospitality Lord Adurni trespassed in, and thou conceived, against Spinella.”

Here Lord Adurni was referring to two breaches of hospitality: the breach of hospitality that Lord Adurni trespassed in, and the breach of hospitality that Aurelio conceived in his imagination.

Lord Adurni could be thinking that his breach of hospitality was what Spinella had called it when speaking earlier to Malfato. Spinella had said about Lord Adurni: “He was in excess of entertainment; otherwise, he was not importunately wanton.”

The breach of hospitality that Aurelio had conceived in his imagination was actual or attempted seduction. Aurelio’s suspicion had led to his breaking into the room in which were Lord Adurni and Spinella, and this had in turn caused gossip and loss of reputation.

Lord Adurni then said, “Why, evidence grows faint if barely not supposed I’ll answer guilty.”

In other words, the only way that Aurelio can succeed in proving his accusation is if Lord Adurni were to plead guilty to it. If there is even a small chance that Lord Adurni will not plead guilty, then all the evidence that Aurelio has will grow faint. No confession, no conviction.

Aurelio asked, “Haven’t you come here to defy and threaten us?”

“No, Aurelio,” Lord Adurni said. “I have come here only to reply upon that brittle evidence to which thy cunning never shall rejoin — despite your cunning, you shall never make a satisfactory reply to my charge that your evidence is weak.

“I make my judge my jury.”

Aurelio had already judged Lord Adurni guilty of one thing, but Lord Adurni wanted him to be the jury and decide the answer to something else.

Lord Adurni identified that task for the jury: “Decide whether, with all the eagerness of spleen or a suspicious rage can plead, thou have driven the likelihood of scandal.”

Certainly, Aurelio’s breaking into the private chamber in which Lord Adurni and Spinella were alone had resulted in much scandal concerning Spinella.

Aurelio said, “Don’t doubt that I have delivered the honest truth, as much as I believe and justly witness.”

People can believe something that is false.

Lord Adurni said, “Those are weak foundations on which to raise a bulwark of reproach! And thus for that!

“My errand in coming here is not, in whining, truant-like submission, to cry, ‘I have offended; please, forgive me. I won’t do it any more.’

“Instead, my purpose is only to proclaim the power of virtue, whose commanding rule and power set bounds and checks on rebel bloods.

“The power of virtue restrains the habits of folly.

“By the use of example, the power of virtue teaches a rule to reformation.

“By the use of rewards, the power of virtue crowns worthy actions and gives invitations to honor.”

Aurelio said, “Honor and worthy actions best become their lips who practice both, and don’t lecture about them.”

Lord Auria said, “Peace! Peace, man!”

He wanted the two men to talk, not fight.

He then said, “I am silent.”

Lord Adurni said, “Some there are, and they are not few in number, who resolve no beauty can be chaste unless unattempted.”

This is a cynical view. It means that any beautiful woman will be unchaste when someone tries to commit adultery with her.

Lord Adurni might have said that some people believe that no beauty can be chaste unless attempted.

In this case, acquiring the virtue of chastity involves resisting one or more attempts at convincing the beauty to commit adultery and be unchaste.

Lord Adurni continued, “And, because the liberty of courtship flies from the wanton to the her who comes next, meeting oftentimes too many soon seduced, conclude all may be won by gifts, by service, or compliments of vows.”

A seducer will seduce a wanton woman and then move on to the next woman. The seducer will find many women who are easily seduced, and because he finds many women who are seduced with gifts, deeds, and words, he concludes that all women can be seduced with gifts, deeds, and words.

But does the seduction necessarily have to be immortal? The deeds could include courtship. In that case, the seduction would be to persuade the woman to marry the man and have chaste — moral — sex.

Lord Adurni continued, “And with this file I stood in rank; conquest secured my confidence.”

He was perhaps admitting openly to being a seducer and to having seduced many women. In that case, the conquest referred to was his conquest.

Or he was admitting openly to his belief that all women could be seduced — to either a moral seduction or an immoral seduction. In that case, the conquest referred to was not his conquest, but that of another man or men.

He continued, “Spinella — don’t be angry, Auria — was an object of study for fruition.”

“Fruition” means enjoyment. It could refer to 1) the enjoyment of having sex with Spinella, or 2) the enjoyment of finding out that at least one woman is chaste.

Lord Adurni had said only that Spinella was “an object of study,” not that he had actually attempted to seduce her.

He continued, “Here I angled, not doubting the deceit could find resistance.”

The word “deceit” can mean 1) lie, or 2) trick.

The word “doubting” can mean “fearing” in this society, or it can have its usual meaning.

If he did not doubt that the deceit could find resistance, he knew that the deceit could find resistance.

If he did not fear that the deceit could find resistance, he knew that the deceit could not find resistance.

Lord Adurni had either attempted to seduce Spinella, or he had set up a trick in order to prove that she was chaste.

Aurelio said, “After confession follows —”

Aurelio believed that Lord Adurni had just confessed to attempted seduction.

Lord Auria said, “Noise! Observe him.”

This meant: Don’t interrupt. Pay attention to Lord Adurni.

Lord Adurni had not actually confessed to seduction or attempted seduction.

Lord Adurni said, “Oh, strange! By all the comforts of my hopes, I found a woman good — a woman good!”

He did not say how he had found her good. Was it through her rejection of an attempted seduction, or was what might appear to be an attempted seduction only a trick to test her?

He continued, “Yet, as I wish belief, or desire an honorable reputation, so much majesty of humbleness and scorn appeared at once in fair, in chaste, in wise Spinella’s eyes that I grew dull in utterance, and one frown from her cooled every flame of sensual appetite—”

Lord Adurni paused, wondering whether he had said too much, but even when a man intends only to test a woman’s chastity, the man’s sensual appetite can be aroused

Lord Auria said, “Go on, sir, and do not stop.”

Lord Adurni said, “Without protests, I pleaded merely love.”

“Love” can mean 1) fondness and affection, or 2) sexual desire.

He continued, “I used no syllables except those a virgin might without a blush have listened to, and, not well equipped to resist, have pitied.”

Such syllables and such pity could be entirely innocent or could lead a virgin to bed.

Lord Adurni continued, “But she, ignoring my words, cried, ‘Come, Auria, come. Fight for thy wife at home!’”

He said to Aurelio, “Then in rushed you, sir. You talked in much fury, and then departed. As soon as you left, the lady vanished, and the rest left after her.”

Lord Auria said, “What happened next?”

Lord Adurni’s commission here had been to examine his fault and to make a judgment about it. His fault had been his behavior regarding Spinella.

Lord Adurni said, “My commission on my error, in execution whereof I have proved myself to be so exact in every point, that I renounce all memory, not to this one fault alone, but to my other greater and more irksome fault.”

He was saying that his fault was minor and not worth remembering.

The same applied to his “other greater and more irksome fault,” which was probably his affair with Levidolce, and other affairs. Indeed, having that fault known and remembered would hurt Levidolce. People would regard her as a wanton woman.

Of course, Spinella and Lord Auria wanted to restore Spinella’s reputation lest she be labeled a wanton woman.

Lord Adurni continued, “Now let any man who owns a name and is of good birth and who construes this testimony of mine the report of fear, of falsehood or imposture, tell me that I give myself the lie.”

He was giving Lord Auria and Aurelio the chance to object to what he had said. They did not have to object, but now was their opportunity to do so.

Lord Adurni believed what he had said: His faults were minor and ought not to be remembered.

If Lord Adurni were told to “give myself the lie,” he would be told that he was lying to himself. Being told that one was a liar was a serious offense and required the fighting of a duel.

Lord Adurni continued, “If he tells me that, I will clear the injury.”

He could do that by fighting and winning the duel.

He continued, “And man to man, or if such justice may prove doubtful, two to two, or three to three, or any way needed I will reprieve the opinion of my forfeit without blemish.”

“To reprieve” means “to redeem” or “to bring back.”

A “forfeit” is a misdeed.

Lord Adurni had talked about his misdeeds and had said that they were not serious enough to be remembered, and if anyone thought he had lied, he would get back the opinion that his misdeeds were not serious enough to be remembered.

He would win the duel, whether it was one against one, or two against two, or three against three, and by doing so, he would show himself innocent of lying.

Angry at the mention of dueling, Lord Auria said, “Who can you think I am? Did you expect so great a tameness and meekness that you find, Lord Adurni, that you can cast loud defiance? Say —”

His anger sprang from knowing that there was no need to talk about dueling. Talking about it made it more likely to happen.

Lord Auria had spoken up quickly, before Aurelio could speak up. Lord Auria did not want Lord Adurni and Aurelio to fight a duel.

Lord Adurni said, “I have robbed you of severity, Lord Auria, by my strict self-penance for the presumption.”

He believed that Lord Auria could wish, or could have wished, to fight a duel with him, but that his testimony had robbed him of that. Any duel would be fought between Lord Adurni and someone else.

Lord Adurni had mentioned a duel of two against two, or three against three. He had offered that in case people believed that a duel of one against one would make justice doubtful, as when one man was clearly superior to the other in dueling.

Lord Auria had recently distinguished himself in military matters.

Lord Auria said, “Surely, Italians hardly admit dispute in questions of this nature. The trick is new.”

In other words, no duel was needed here.

Lord Adurni said, “I find my absolution by vows of change from all ignoble practice.”

He was vowing to refrain from all ignoble practice. He would avoid doing evil. He was vowing to reform. This is something that both Lord Auria and Aurelio would approve of.

Lord Auria said, “Why, look, friend, I told you this before, but you would not be persuaded.”

Lord Auria had previously advised Lord Adurni to reform, but he had not reformed.

Walking apart from the others, Lord Auria said, “Let me think —”

He still wanted to achieve his objective: He wanted to clear Spinella’s name and reputation.

Aurelio said to Lord Adurni, “You do not yet deny that you solicited the lady to ill purpose. You haven’t denied that you attempted to seduce her.”

Lord Adurni avoided the question by saying, “I have already answered that. But it returned much quiet to my mind, perplexed with rare commotions.”

Lord Auria said to himself, “That’s the way. It overcomes all obstacles.”

He had decided on a course of action.

Overhearing, Aurelio said, “My lord?”

Lord Auria said, “Bah! I am thinking —

“You may continue to talk.”

He then continued to talk to himself, “If it takes, it is clear. And then — and then — and so — and so —”

Lord Adurni said, “You labor with curious engines — ingenious devices — surely.”

“Fine ones!” Lord Auria said, “I take you to be a man of credit; else —”

“Suspicion is needless,” Lord Adurni said. “You should know me better than that.”

“Yet you must not part from me, sir,” Lord Auria said.

“As for that, I am at your pleasure,” Lord Adurni said.

Lord Auria quoted what he had been told his wife had said: “‘Come, fight for thy wife at home, my Auria!’”

He then said, “Yes, we can fight, my Spinella, when thine honor relies upon a champion.”

He would be that champion.

Trelcatio entered the room.

Lord Auria asked, “What is it now?”

Trelcatio replied, “My lord, Castanna, along with her sister and Malfato, have just arrived.”

Lord Auria said to Trelcatio, “Don’t be loud. Escort them into the gallery.”

He then said, “Aurelio, friend, and Lord Adurni, lord, we three will sit in council, and piece together a heartfelt league of friendship among us, or scuffle harshly.”



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David Bruce: John Ford’s THE LADY’S TRIAL: A Retelling — Act 4, Scene 2

— 4.2 —

Trelcatio, Piero, and Futelli spoke together in an apartment in Trelcatio’s house. Trelcatio was Lord Auria’s uncle.

Trelcatio said, “Members of the council are already sitting: I will arrive late. Now, therefore, gentlemen, this house is free for you to use. As your intentions are sober, your pains shall be accepted.”

Futelli replied, “Mirth sometimes falls into earnest, signor.”

“We, for our parts, aim at the best,” Piero said.

They were playing a practical joke on Amoretta, old Trelcatio’s daughter, by having two foolish men court her and by telling her that the two foolish men were highly born.

Some people might think that the practical joke was cruel, but Trelcatio believed that the intentions of Futelli and Piero were basically good.

Trelcatio replied, “If you two are not aiming for the best, then you wrong yourselves and me. May you have good success!”

He exited to go to the council.

Piero said, “Futelli, it is our wisest course to follow our pastime with discretion, by which means we may ingratiate, as our business hits, our undertakings to great Auria’s favor.”

Lord Auria and Amoretta were cousins, and if Futelli and Piero were to help Amoretta get over her obsession with the highly born and the number of horses that pulled their coaches, they would help both her and by extension Lord Auria, who naturally would want his cousin to be a good person. By helping Lord Auria, Futelli and Piero could very well help themselves.

Futelli said, “I grow quite weary of this lazy custom, attending on the fruitless hopes of service for food and ragged clothing.

“A wit? That would be a shrewd preferment! Study some scurrilous jests, grow old, and beg!

“No, let them who love foul linen be admired. I’ll run a new course.”

He had been serving Lord Adurni, but he saw little hope of rising in society if he continued to do that. He wanted to find another way to rise in society.

Piero said, “Get the coin we spend. And knock on the head those who jeer our earnings.”

Music began to sound. It was a gift to Amoretta from one of her suitors.

Futelli said, “Hush, man! One suitor is coming.”

Piero said, “The other suitor follows.”

Futelli said, “Don’t be so loud.”

He saw Amoretta and said, “Here comes Madonna Sweet-lips.”

He then imitated her lisp: “Mithtreth, in thooth, forthooth, will lithp it to uth.”

Amoretta’s lisp turned S’s into Th’s, and G’s into D’s, and sometimes R’s into W’s or other sounds.

Amoretta walked over to them and said, “Dentlemen, then ye.”

She meant, “Gentlemen, den ye.”

In this society, this meant: “Gentlemen, good evening!”

She continued, “Ith thith muthic yourth, or can you tell what great man’th fiddleth made it?

“Tith vedee pretty noyth, but who thould thend it?”

Piero asked, “Don’t you yourself know, lady?”

Amoretta answered, “I do not uthe to [use to — that is, usually] thpend lip-labor upon quethtionths that I mythelf can anthwer.”

“No, sweet madam,” Futelli said. “Your lips are destined to a better use, or else the proverb fails of lisping maids.”

This is the proverb: “None kitheth like the lithping lass.”

Amoretta, who knew the proverb, said, “Kithing you mean; pway, come behind with your mockths, then. My lipths will therve the one to kith the other.”

Amoretta knew that Futelli was mocking her lisp; she didn’t let it worry her, but she did say that her lips would kiss each other.

She asked, “Now, whath neckth?”

Some singers sang these lyrics:

What ho! We come to be merry!

Open the doors! A jovial crew,

Lusty boys and free, and very,

Very, very lusty boys are we!

We can drink till all look blue,

Dance, sing, and roar.

Never give o’er

As long as we have ever an eye to see.”

The next part of the song included lisping:

Pithee, pithee, leth’s come in.

One thall all oua favours win.

Dently, dently, we thall pass;

None kitheth like the lithping lass.”

Piero said, “What! Do you call this a song?”

Amoretta answered, “Yeth, a delithious thing, and wondroth pretty.”

Futelli thought, A very country-catch!

A country-catch is a rustic song, but Futelli was also referring to Amoretta. He may have thought of her as a “cunt-try [to] catch.”

Futelli said, “Doubtless some prince most likely has sent it to celebrate your night’s repose.”

Amoretta said, “Think ye tho, thignor? It muth be, then, thome unknown obthcure pwinth who thuns the light.”

Piero said, “Perhaps he is the Prince of Darkness.”

The Prince of Darkness is the Devil.

“Of darkneth!” Amoretta said. “Who ith he?”

Futelli said, “A matchless courtier: He woos and wins more beauties to his love than all the kings on earth.”

Amoretta asked, “Whea thandeth hith court, pway?”

Futelli said, “This gentleman who is approaching, I presume, has more relation to his court than I do, and comes in time to inform you about it.”

Fulgoso the Parvenu walked over to them.

Amoretta said, “Think you tho? I’m thure you know him.”

Piero said, “Lady, you’ll perceive that it is so.”

Yes, the Prince of Darkness probably knew something about the activities of both Futelli and Piero.

Fulgoso the Parvenu thought, She seems in my first entrance to admire me. I declare that she eyes me all over. Fulg, she’s thine own!

Piero said, “Noble Fulgoso.”

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “Did you hear the music? It was I who brought it. Wasn’t it tickling? Ah, ha!”

Amoretta asked, “Pway, what pwinth thent it?”

She thought that Fulgoso was the man-servant of a prince who had sent the music.

Using the majestic plural, Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “Prince! No prince, but we. We set the ditty and composed the song. There’s not a note of music or foot of verse in it but our own and the pure trodden mortar of this brain. We can do things and things.”

The mortar of his brain cemented the music and words together. The mortar of his brain can be described as completely trodden.

Amoretta said, “Dood! Thing it youa thelf, then.”

“No, no,” Fulgoso the Parvenu said. “I could never sing more than a tomcat or even an owlet. But you shall hear me whistle it.”

He whistled.

Amoretta said, “Thith thing’th thome jethter. Thurely he belongth to the Pwinth of Darkneth.”

Piero said, “Yes, and I’ll tell you what his office is. His prince delights himself exceedingly in birds of diverse kinds; this gentleman is the keeper and instructor of his blackbirds. He learned his skill first from his father’s wagon-driver.”

Amoretta said, “It ith wonderful to thee by what thrange means thome men are raised to plathes.”

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “I do hear you, and I thank you heartily for your good wills in setting forth my abilities, but what I live on is simple trade of money from my lands.

“Hang spongers and parasites! I am no cheater or trickster!”

Amoretta asked, “Ith it pothible?”

Guzman the Spaniard walked over to them.

Amoretta asked, “Bleth uth. Who’th thith?”

“Oh, it is the man of might,” Futelli said.

Guzman the Spaniard said, “May my address to beauty lay no scandal upon my martial honor, since even Mars, whom, as in war, in love I imitate, could not resist the shafts of Cupid; therefore, as with the god of war, I deign to stoop.”

“To deign” is “to condescend.” He was condescending to stoop and court Amoretta.

He continued, “Lady, grant, Love’s goddess like, to yield your fairer hand to these lips, the portals of valiant breath that has overturned an army.”

He did well to compare Amoretta to Love’s goddess: Venus. His breath, however, had a quality in addition to valiant: His breath was bad.

Amoretta said, “May faya weather protect me! What a thorm ith thith?”

Futelli said to Guzman, “Oh, Don, keep off at a further distance — yet a little further; don’t you see how your strong breath has terrified the lady?”

Guzman the Spaniard said, “I’ll stop the breath of war, and breathe as gently as a perfumed pair of sucking bellows in some sweet lady’s chamber, for I can speak lion-like or sheep-like, when I please.”

Futelli said, “Stand by, then, without noise, for a while, brave Don, and let her only view your body parts; they’ll take her.”

To “take” a woman can mean to have sex with her.

“I’ll publish them in silence,” Guzman the Spaniard said.

Piero said, “Stand over there, Fulgoso the magnificent.”

“Here?” Fulgoso the Parvenu asked.

“Just there,” Piero said. “Let her survey you both. You’ll be her choice — never doubt it, man.”

“I cannot doubt it, man,” Fulgoso the Parvenu replied.

“But don’t speak until I tell you,” Piero said.

“May I whistle?” Fulgoso the Parvenu asked.

“A little to yourself, to pass the time,” Piero said.

Amoretta asked Futelli, “They are both foolth, you thay?”

Futelli replied, “But listen to what they say. It will entertain you.”

Piero said to her, “Don shall begin.”

He then said to Guzman, “Begin, Don. She has surveyed your outwards and your inwards, through the tears and wounds of your apparel.”

“She is politic,” Guzman the Spaniard said. “My outside, lady, shrouds an obscured prince.”

Amoretta said, “I thank ye for your muthic, pwinth.”

Guzman the Spaniard thought, My words are music to her.

Amoretta continued, “The muthic and the thong you thent me by thith whithling thing, your man.”

Guzman the Spaniard thought, She has mistaken Fulgoso for my serving-man! God of Love, thou have been just.

Fulgoso the Parvenu thought, I will not stay quiet! To be mistaken for his serving-man! It is time to speak before my time.

He said out loud, “Oh, scurvy! I the serving-man of this man, who has no means for food or even ragged clothing, and who has tears in his clothing seams!”

Guzman said, “I have with this one rapier —”

Piero interrupted, “He has no other.”

Guzman the Spaniard continued, “— passed through a field of pikes, whose heads I lopped as easily as the bloody-minded youth lopped off the poppy heads —”

Sextus Tarquinius sent a messenger to ask his father, Tarquinius Superbus (the last king of Rome) how he could conquer the city of Gabii. His father, who was in his garden, took out his sword and decapitated the tallest flowers. Sextus Tarquinius understood that to mean that he should kill the most important men in the city.

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “The puppet-heads.”

Don Quixote attacked some puppets in the belief that they were Moors.

Guzman the Spaniard sputtered, “Have I … have I … have I —”

He meant: Have I attacked puppets?

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “Thou lie, thou have not, and I’ll maintain it.”

Fulgoso meant that Guzman had not passed through a field of pikes, whose heads he had lopped.

Guzman the Spaniard said, “Have I — but let that pass, for even if my famous acts were damned to silence, yet my descent shall crown me thy superior.”

Amoretta, who was interested in high birth, said, “That I would lithen to.”

Guzman the Spaniard said, “Listen and wonder. My great-great-grandsire was an ancient duke. He was given the name Desver di Gonzado.”

The Spanish word “desvergonzado” means “shameless.”

Futelli said to Amoretta, “That’s, in Spanish, an incorrigible rogue without a fellow — an unmatched rogue. Guzman thinks we don’t understand that.”

Guzman the Spaniard said, “My grandfather was hight [was called] Argozile.”

Futelli said to Amoretta, “He was an arrant, arrant thief-leader. Please note — and mock — it.”

Guzman the Spaniard said, “My grandsire by the mother’s side was a conde: Conde Scrivano.”

A condeis a Spanish count.

Futelli said to Amoretta, “He was a crop-eared scrivener.”

A punishment of the time was to crop — cut off the top of — an offender’s ears.

A scrivener was a scribe: someone who copied or wrote documents for pay.

Guzman the Spaniard continued, “Whose son, my mother’s father, was a marquis: Hijo di puto.”

Hijo di putois Spanish for “son of a bitch.”

Piero said to Amoretta, “That’s the son of a whore.”

Guzman the Spaniard said, “And my renowned sire, Don Picaro —”

The Spanish picaromeans “rogue.”

Futelli said to Amoretta, “In the proper sense, that means a rascal.”

He then said, louder, “Oh, brave Don!”

Guzman the Spaniard said, “Hijo di una pravada —

Piero said, “He goes on. The name means ‘Son of a branded bitch.’”

Criminals could be branded.

Piero then said, louder, “High-spirited Don!”

Guzman the Spaniard said, “He had honors both by sea and land, to wit —”

Futelli said to Amoretta, “The galleys and Bridewell.”

The honors by sea were being forced to row a galley-ship. The honors by land were being sentenced to serve a prison term in Bridewell Prison in London.

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “I’ll not endure it. To hear a canting mongrel —

“Hear me, lady!”

Guzman the Spaniard objected, “It is no fair play.”

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “I don’t care whether it’s fair or foul.”

He wanted his turn to describe his heritage.

He continued, “I from a king derive my pedigree. King Oberon was his name, from whom my father, the mighty and courageous Mountibanco, was lineally descended; and my mother — in right of whose blood I must always honor the lower Germany — was a Harlequin.”

Oberon is King of the Fairies in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

A mountebank is a wandering showman who sells quack medicine.

A harlequin is a buffoon or a Fool (jester) in traditional pantomime.

Futelli said, “He’ll blow up Guzman the Spaniard presently by his mother’s side.”

His mother’s side came from “Lower Germany,” which is sometimes used to refer to the Low Countries or Netherlands.

Fulgoso the Parvenu continued, “Her father was Grave Hans Van Heme, the son of Hogen Mogen, dat de droates did sneighen of veirteen hundred Spaniards in one neict.”

Hogen mogen” are Dutch words meaning, roughly, “high mightinesses.”

Out of patriotism, Fulgoso had used a heavy Dutch accent for part of the sentence. He meant: “… that the throats did cut of fourteen hundred Spaniards in one night.”

Or, possibly, he had used a heavy Dutch accent in an attempt to keep Guzman the Spaniard from understanding what he was saying.

Guzman the Spaniard said, “Oh, diabolo!”

Diablois Spanish for “devil.”

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “Neither ten thousand devils nor ten thousand diabolosshall frighten me from reciting my pedigree.

“My uncle, Yacob Van Flagon-drought [drink from a flagon], with Abraham Snortenfert [snort and fart], and youngster Brogen-foh [brag and fight], with fourscore hargubush [portable guns], managed by well-lined butter-boxes [butter-loving Dutchmen], took a thousand Spanish jobbernowls [blockheads] by surprise, and beat a sconce about their ears.”

A sconce can be 1) a lantern, 2) a candlestick, 3) a head, or 4) a small fort.

Guzman the Spaniard said, “My fury is now but justice on thy forfeit life.”

He was so angry because of Fulgoso’s words against the Spanish that he felt justified in killing Fulgoso.

He drew his sword.

Amoretta said, “Alath … they thall not fight.”

Her words were ambiguous. She was sorrowful either because they would fight and she did not want them to, or she was sorrowful because she knew that they would not fight.

“Fear not, sweet lady,” Futelli said.

Piero said to Fulgoso and Guzman, “Be advised, great spirits.”

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “My fortunes bid me to be wise in duels. Or else, hang it, who cares?”

If Fulgoso and Guzman fought a duel and Fulgoso died, he would lose his life and a fortune. But if Guzman died, he would lose only his life. It did not make good economic sense for Fulgoso to fight a duel.

Guzman the Spaniard said, “My honor is my tutor, already tried and known.”

“Why, there’s the point,” Fulgoso the Parvenu said. “My honor is my tutor, too. Noblemen fight in their own persons! I scorn it! It is out of fashion. There’s none but harebrained youths of mettle who do it.”

The word “mettle” means “character.”

Piero said, “Yet don’t put up your swords; it is the pleasure of the fair lady that you quit the field with brandished blades in hand.”

Futelli said, “And in addition, to show your suffering valor, as her equal favorites, you both should take a competence of kicks. Each of you should get your fair share of kicks.”

Guzman the Spaniard and Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “What!”

Futelli and Piero said as they kicked them: “Like this! And this! Go away, you pair of stinkards!”

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “Phew! As it were.”

He whistled.

Guzman the Spaniard said, “Why, since it is her pleasure, I dare and will endure it.”

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “Phew!”

Honor demanded that Fulgoso and Guzman fight Futelli and Piero, but Fulgoso and Guzman were unwilling to do that.

Piero said, “Go away, but stay below.”

As a verb, the word “below” can mean “humble yourself and bring yourself low.” As an adjective, it can mean “unworthy of.”

“Stay below” can mean, of course, stay at a lower level. Currently, they may be in a room on the second floor of Trelcatio’s house.

Futelli said, “Budge not, I order you both, until you have further leave.”

Guzman the Spaniard said, “My honor claims the last foot in the field.”

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “I’ll lead the vanguard — the front part of the army — then.”

“Yet more?” Futelli said. “Go away now!”

Fulgoso and Guzman exited.

“Aren’t these precious suitors?” Futelli said.

Trelcatio entered the room and asked, “What tumults frighten the house?”

Futelli said, “There was a pair of castrels — hunting hawks — that fluttered, sir, about this lovely game, your daughter, but they dared not give the souse and so they took to hedge.”

A “souse” is the swooping of a bird at its prey.

A bird will hide in a hedge in order to be safe.

Piero said, “Mere haggards, buzzards, kites.”

These are kinds of birds.

Amoretta said, “I thcorn thuch trumpery; and will thape my luff henthforth ath thall my father betht direct me.”

A luff is a front sail. Amoretta was saying that she would from now on take her father’s advice.

The practical joke of Futelli and Piero seemed to have worked. Amoretta had said that she was willing to obey her father, who was more sensible than she.

Trelcatio said, “Why now thou sing in tune, my Amoretta —”

He then said to Futelli and Piero, “And, my good friends, you have, like wise physicians, prescribed a healthful diet: I shall think on a bounty for your pains, and will present you to noble Auria, such as your descents — and deserts — commend, but for the present we must leave this room to privacy; they are coming —”

Amoretta said, “Please don’t leave me, dentlemen.”

Futelli said, “We are your servants.”

They exited.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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David Bruce: John Ford’a THE LADY’S TRIAL: A Retelling — Act 4, Scene 1

— 4.1 —

Malfato and Spinella spoke together in a room in Malfato’s house. Malfato and Spinella were first cousins.

“You are safe here, my sad cousin,” Malfato said. “If you please, you may repeat the circumstances of what you recently discoursed. My ears are gladly open, for I myself am in such hearty league with solitary thoughts that pensive language charms my attention.”

Spinella said, “But by how much more in him my husband’s honors sparkle clearly, by so much more they tempt belief to credit the wreck and ruin of my injured name.”

When a man rises high, such as Lord Auria recently had, some people are tempted to pull him back down again. In Lord Auria’s case, they could do that by believing the gossip that was now being told about his wife, Spinella herself.

Malfato said, “Why, cousin, even if the earth would cleave to the roots of trees as they fell, the seas and heavens be mingled in disorder, your purity with unfrightened eyes might look intently at the uproar. It is the guilty who tremble at horrors, not the innocent. You’re cruel in censuring a liberty that is allowed.”

Which liberty? Gossip, which is free speech? Certainly, Malfato believed that Spinella’s good character would triumph over any malicious gossip told about her.

He continued, “Speak freely, gentle cousin. Was Lord Adurni importunately wanton?”

Spinella said, “He was in excess of entertainment; otherwise, he was not importunately wanton.”

Was she being deliberately kind in interpreting what had happened? Can an attempted seduction be regarded as a social invitation to an entertainment?

Malfato asked, “Not the boldness of an uncivil courtship?”

“What that meant I never understood,” Spinella said.

Sometimes, women pretend not to know things that they really know. They know these things privately, but pretend not to know them in their public life. Pretending ignorance is a way to maintain innocence.

She continued, “I have at once set bars between my best of earthly joys and the best of men — he is as excellent a man as lives without comparison; his love to me was matchless.”

The bars were between herself, and her husband: between her enjoyment of her husband, and her husband. She had separated herself from her husband.

Malfato said, “Yet, suppose, sweet cousin, that I could name a creature whose affection followed your Lord Auria in the height; affection to you, even to Spinella, affection as true and settled as ever Lord Auria’s was, can, is, or will be. You may not chide the story.”

Spinella said, “Fortune’s favorites are flattered, but the miserable are not flattered.”

Malfato now began to tell Spinella that he loved her:

“Listen to a strange tale, which thus the author sighed. A kinsman of Spinella — so it runs — her father’s sister’s son, some time before Auria the fortunate possessed her beauties, became enamored of such rare perfections as she was stored with.

“He fed his idle hopes with the possibilities of lawful conquest.

“He proposed — carefully considered — each difficulty in pursuit of what his vain supposal styled his own.

“He found in the argument only one flaw of conscience, which was the nearness of their bloods — they were first cousins. This was an unhappy scruple, but easily dispensed with, had any friend’s advice resolved the doubt.”

The word “doubt” can also mean “fear.” The friend could have disposed of the doubt and fear with his or her advice.

Malfato continued, “Still on he loved and loved, and wished and wished.

“Sometimes he began to speak, yet soon broke off, and still the fondling dared not — because he dared not.”

Spinella said, “It was wonderful.”

Malfato said, “Exceedingly wonderful, beyond all wonder, yet it is known for truth after her marriage, when nothing remained of expectation to such fruitless dotage.

“His reason then — now — then — could not reduce the violence of passion, although he vowed never to unlock that secret, and scarcely to her, Spinella herself; and in addition he resolved not to come near her presence, but to avoid all opportunities, however presented to him.”

Spinella said, “An understanding dulled by the infelicity of constant sorrow finds it difficult to take in and understand pregnant novelty and important news. My ears receive the words you utter, cousin, but my thoughts are fastened on another subject.”

Malfato said, “Can you embrace your own woes and make them so like a darling, and play the tyrant with a partner in them?”

Malfato was suffering from unrequited love, but Spinella was showing no pity to him.

He continued, “Then I am thankful for this opportunity: Urged by fatal and enjoined necessity to stand up in defense of injured virtue, I will against anyone — I except no one, including no person of quality and high rank — maintain all these suppositions about you to be misapplied, dishonest, false, and villainous.”

Spinella began, “Dear cousin, as you’re a gentleman —”

Malfato interrupted, “— I’ll bless that hand whose honorable pity seals the passport for my incessant turmoils to their rest.”

He was thinking of fighting a duel to defend her honor. Dying in the duel meant that his unhappiness would cease.

He continued, “If I prevail — which heaven forbid! — these ages that shall inherit ours may tell posterity that Spinella had Malfato for a kinsman. Future ages will be made jealous of her fame because of his noble love.”

“No more,” Spinella said. “I dare not hear it.”

“All is said,” Malfato said. “Henceforth a syllable shall never proceed from my unpleasant and unwelcome voice of amorous folly —”

The entrance of Castanna interrupted him.

Castanna said, “Your summons told me to come here; I have come.

“Sister, my sister, it was an unkind action not to take me along with thee.”

“Chide her for it,” Malfato said. “Castanna, this house is as freely yours as your father’s ever was.”

Castanna said, “We believe it to be so, although your recent strange aloofness had made us wonder —

“But for what reason, sister, do thou keep your silence and distance? Am I not welcome to thee?”

Spinella asked, “Is Auria safe and sound?

“Oh, please do not hear me call him ‘husband’ before thou can resolve what kind of wife his fury terms me, the runaway. Speak quickly. Yet do not — stop, Castanna — I am lost! His friend Aurelio has told him that I am a bad woman, and he, the good man, believes it.”

Castanna began, “Now, in truth —”

“Stop!” Spinella said. “My heart trembles — I perceive thy tongue is pregnant with ills, and hastens to tell those ill tidings.

“I would not treat Castanna so.

“First tell me, shortly and truly tell me, how he is.”

“He is in perfect health,” Castanna said.

“For that I give my thanks to Heaven,” Spinella said.

Malfato said to himself, “The world has not another wife like this.”

He then said to Spinella, “Cousin, you will not hear your sister speak, so much your strong emotion rules you.”

Spinella said, “I will listen now to what she pleases to tell me.

“Go on, Castanna.”

Castanna said, “Your most noble husband is deaf to all reports about you, and only grieves at the causeless absence of his soul’s love: Spinella.”

Malfato said to Spinella, “Why, see, cousin, now! This is good news!”

Spinella said, “It is good news indeed!”

Castanna said, “He will value no counsel and advice, he takes no pleasure in his greatness, he admits of no likelihood at all that you are living; if you were living, he’s certain that it would be impossible you could conceal your welcomes to him, because you are all one with him.

“But as for jealousy, suspicion, or mistrust concerning your dishonor, he both laughs at and scorns it.”

Spinella asked, “Does he?”

Lord Auria truly scorned such gossip about her.

Malfato said, “Therein Auria shows himself to deserve his happiness.”

Castanna said, “I think this news should cause some reaction in you, sister — you are not well.”

Spinella was quiet.

“Not well!” Malfato said.

Spinella said, “I am unworthy —”

Malfato asked, “Of whom? What? Why?”

Spinella said to Malfato, “Go, cousin.”

She said to her sister, “Come, Castanna.”

Malfato exited in one direction; Spinella and Castanna exited in another direction.


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David Bruce: John Ford’s THE LADY’S TRIAL: A Retelling — Act 3, Scene 4

— 3.4 —

Benazzi stood alone on a street. He was using the name “Parado” now, and he was serving Fulgoso the Parvenu.

Benazzi/Parado said, “The paper that was in the purse thrown to me gave me directions. This is the place the paper appointed, and this is the time the paper appointed. Here I dance attendance and wait. Ah, here she is already.”

Levidolce, Benazzi’s divorced wife, walked over to him.

Benazzi still looked like an outlaw, but Levidolce was not wearing any kind of disguise.

“Parado!” Levidolce said. “I overheard your name.”

Benazzi/Parado said, “I am a mushroom, sprung up in a minute by the sunshine of your benevolent grace.”

A mushroom is someone who rises quickly in social status. Benazzi had been an outlaw, but the money Levidolce had thrown to him had relieved his distress considerably. In addition, he had found a job serving Fulgoso the Parvenu.

Benazzi/Parado continued, “Liberality and hospitable compassion, most magnificent beauty, have for a long time lain bedridden in the ashes of the old world until now. Your illustrious charity has raked up the dead embers, by giving life to a worm inevitably devoted to you, as you shall please to new-shape me.”

Levidolce thought, He is a grateful man, it seems. Where gratitude has harbor, a stock of other becoming accomplished qualities must necessarily inhabit the same place.

She asked out loud, “What country claims your birth? What country are you from?”

“None,” Benazzi/Parado replied. “I was born at sea, as my mother sailed from Cape Ludugory to Cape Cagliari, toward Africa, in Sardinia. I was raised in Aquilastro, and when I became a young man, I put myself in service under the Spanish Viceroy, until I was taken prisoner by the Turks.

“I have tasted in my days a handsome store of good and bad, and I am thankful for both.”

Levidolce said, “You seem the child, then, of honest parents.”

Benazzi/Parado said, “They were reputed to be no less than honest. Many children often inherit the lands of those who perhaps never begot them. My mother’s husband was a very old man at my birth, but no man is too old to father his wife’s child.”

It is true that if a man grows old enough, that man will become biologically impotent. Nature cannot trust an old man to be around to raise a child. In the interests of peace, however, it can be a good idea to pretend that the old man is the biological father.

It is also true that a husband can be very old, yet father — that is, raise — his wife’s child.

Benazzi/Parado continued, “I am sure I will always prove myself to be entirely your servant.”

“Do you dare to be secret?” Levidolce asked.

“Yes,” Benazzi/Parado replied.

“And do you dare to act quickly?” Levidolce asked.

“Yes,” Benazzi/Parado replied.

“But also be sure of hand and sure of spirit?” Levidolce asked.

“Yes, yes,” Benazzi/Parado replied.

“I will not use many words,” Levidolce said. “The lack of time prevents their use, but a man of quality has robbed my honor.”

“Name him,” Benazzi/Parado said.

“Adurni,” Levidolce replied.

“He shall bleed,” Benazzi/Parado said.

Levidolce added, “Malfato scornfully rejected the love I offered to him.”

Benazzi/Parado said, “Yoke them in death.”

Apparently, he meant that he could kill both Lord Adurni and Malfato.

“Yoke them in death” has another, sexual meaning. One meaning of “to yoke” is to hug and couple. One meaning of “to die” is to have an orgasm.

Benazzi/Parado then asked, “What’s my reward for doing this?”

“Propose it, and enjoy it,” Levidolce said.

“I want you for my wife,” Benazzi/Parado answered.

“Ha!” Levidolce exclaimed.

“Nothing else will do,” Benazzi/Parado said. “Deny me, and I’ll betray your counsels and cause your ruin. Your other choice is to do the feat courageously. Marry me or be ruined. Consider.”

“I do,” Levidolce said. “Dispatch the task I have imposed on you, and then claim what I have promised.”

“That won’t happen, pretty one,” Benazzi/Parado said. “We’ll marry first, or farewell.”

He started to leave.

“Wait,” Levidolce said. “Think about what I have confessed and know what a plague thou are drawing into thy bosom. Although I blush to say it, know that I have, without any sense of shame or honor, forsaken a lawful marriage bed in order to amuse myself between Lord Adurni’s arms.”

Benazzi/Parado said, “This lord’s.”

He was asking if Lord Adurni were the man of quality who had robbed her honor.

“He is the same,” Levidolce said. “There is more. Not content with him, I courted a newer pleasure, but I was there refused by the man I named so recently.”

“Malfato?” Benazzi/Parado asked.

“That is right,” Levidolce said. “I am henceforth resolutely bent to print my follies on their hearts, and then I will change my life for some rare penance.”

This is not the way repentance works. If you repent, you forgive now. You don’t get revenge first and then repent.

Levidolce asked, “Can thou love me now?”

“I love you better,” Benazzi/Parado said. “I do believe it is possible you may mend. All this breaks off no bargain.”

“Accept my hand,” Levidolce said. “With this hand comes a faith as constant as vows can urge; nor shall my haste prevent this contract, which only death must divorce.”

They were now legally engaged to be married.

“Set the time for the wedding,” Benazzi/Parado said.

“Meet here tomorrow night,” Levidolce said. “We will make further decisions, as is suitable for us.”

Benazzi/Parado asked, “What is the name of my new love?”

He had recognized her, but he did not want her to know who he was.

“Levidolce,” she answered. “Be confident I bring a worthy dowry to you. But you’ll flee.”

“Not I, by all that’s noble!” Benazzi/Parado said. “Give me a kiss.”

She kissed him.

As he exited, he said, “Farewell, dear fate!”

Alone, Levidolce said, “Love is sharp-sighted and can pierce through the cunning of disguises.”

In other words, she had recognized him.

Because she was not wearing a disguise, he must have recognized her. She had to know that.

Levidolce added, “False pleasures, I cashier you — I dismiss you. Fair truth, welcome!”

“False pleasures” can include the pleasures of adultery. “Fair truth” can include faithfulness in marriage.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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