David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s THE TAMING OF THE SHREW: A Retelling in Prose — Act 5, Scene 1

 — 5.1 —

Gremio stood in front of Lucentio’s house. He did not see Biondello, Lucentio, and Bianca, who were further down the street. Lucentio was no longer disguised as Cambio.

Biondello said, “Let us move quietly and swiftly, sir; the priest is ready.”

Lucentio said, “I am hurrying, Biondello, but they may need you at home so leave us and go home.”

“Not yet,” Biondello said. “I will go with you to the church, and then I will return to the house as quickly as I can.”

Biondello, Lucentio, and Bianca left to go to the church.

“I wonder why Cambio is not here,” Gremio said.

Petruchio, Katherina, Vincentio, Grumio, and some servants now arrived and went to Lucentio’s house.

Petruchio said to Vincentio, “Sir, here’s the door; this is Lucentio’s house. My father-in-law Baptista’s house is closer to the marketplace. There I must go, and so here I leave you, sir.”

“You shall have a drink before you go,” Vincentio said. “I think that any friend of mine will be welcomed here, and in all likelihood, some entertainment has already been prepared.”

He knocked on the door.

Gremio said, “They are all busy inside; you better knock louder.”

The old man who was pretending to be Vincentio looked out of a window and asked, “Who is knocking as if he would like to beat down the door?”

Vincentio asked, “Is Signior Lucentio within, sir?”

“He’s inside, sir, but he is too busy to speak to anyone.”

Vincentio, who had brought money to give to his son, asked, “What if a man was bringing him a hundred pounds or two, for him to spend as he wishes? Is he still too busy to talk to me?”

The old man replied, “Keep your hundred pounds to yourself: Lucentio shall not lack money as long as I live.”

Petruchio said to Vincentio, “See, I told you that your son is well beloved in Padua.”

Petruchio said to the old man, “Listen, sir. To make matters clear, please tell Signior Lucentio that his father has come from Pisa and is here at the door and wants to speak with him.”

The old man was worried. He was pretending to be Vincentio, and here before him was the real Vincentio! He decided to continue to pretend to be Vincentio: “You lie! His father has already come from Padua and he is here and is looking out the window.”

“Are you Lucentio’s father?” Vincentio asked.

“Yes, sir,” the old man said. “So his mother says, if I may believe her.”

Petruchio said to the real Vincentio, “Why, what are you doing! This is outright knavery — you have taken another man’s name and are pretending to be him.”

The old man at the window said, “Lay hands on the villain and arrest him. I believe that he intends to cheat somebody in this city while pretending to be me.”

Biondello arrived.

He thought, I have seen Lucentio and Bianca in the church together. May God bless them! But who is here? He is my old master: Vincentio! Now our plans are undone and brought to ruin!

Vincentio saw Biondello, recognized him, and said, “Come here, you rope-stretcher! Your neck was made to fit a hangman’s noose!”

Biondello decided to brazen it out and said, “You are not the boss of me.”

“Come here, you rogue,” Vincentio said. “What, have you forgotten me?”

“Forgotten you!” Biondello replied. “No, sir. I could not forget you because I have never seen you before in all my life.”

“What, you notorious villain, have you never seen your master’s father, Vincentio?”

“The father of my master? Yes, indeed, sir. I see him right now — he is looking out of the window.”

“Is that so!” Vincentio said. He hit Biondello.

Biondello shouted, “Help, help, help! This is a madman who wants to murder me!”

He ran away.

The old man who was pretending to be Vincentio shouted, “Help, son! Help, Signior Baptista!”

The old man withdrew from the window.

Petruchio said, “Kate, let’s stay here and see what happens.”

They withdrew a little to a spot where they could still see what happened.

The old man who was playing Vincentio walked onto the street. So did Tranio, Baptista, and some servants.

Tranio recognized Vincentio and decided to try to brazen it out. He said, “Sir, who are you to presume to beat my servant?”

“Who am I!” Vincentio cried. “Who are you? Oh, my God! You are a fine villain! Look at what you are wearing! A silk jacket! Velvet stockings! A scarlet cloak! And a fancy hat! The work I have done is undone! While I carefully manage my money at home, my son and my servant spend all I have at the university!”

Tranio said to Vincentio, “What’s the matter with you?”

“Is this man a lunatic?” Baptista asked.

Tranio said to Vincentio, “Sir, you seem to be a respectable old gentleman judging by your clothing, but your words show that you are a madman. Why, sir, what concern is it of yours if I wear pearls and gold? I thank my good father, with whose help I am able to buy my fine clothing.”

“With the help of your father!” Vincentio said. “Villain! Your father is a sail maker in Bergamo.”

“You are mistaken, sir,” Baptista said. “You are definitely mistaken, sir. What do you think is this man’s name?”

“What is his name?” Vincentio said. “I know his name! I have brought him up ever since he was three years old, and his name is Tranio.”

The old man who was pretending to be Vincentio said, “Away, away, mad ass! This man’s name is Lucentio, and he is my only son and the only heir to the lands of me, Signior Vincentio.”

“You think that his name is Lucentio!” Vincentio said. “Oh, he must have murdered his master! I order you in the Duke’s name to lay hold of him and arrest him. Oh, my son, my son!”

He said to Tranio, “Tell me, villain, where is my son, Lucentio?”

“Bring a police officer here,” Tranio ordered.

A servant arrived with a police officer, and Tranio said, “Carry this mad knave to prison. Father Baptista, we must see that this man is brought to trial.”

“Carry me to prison!” Vincentio exclaimed.

Gremio said, “Wait, officer. This man shall not go to prison.”

“Be quiet, Gremio,” Baptista said. “I say that he shall go to prison.”

“Be careful, Signior Baptista, lest you be tricked in this business,” Gremio said. “I dare to swear that this man is the right Vincentio.”

“Swear, if you dare,” the old man pretending to be Vincentio said.

Gremio backtracked and said, “No, I dare not swear it.”

“Are you willing to say that I am not Lucentio?” Tranio asked.

“No, I know that you are Lucentio,” Gremio replied.

Baptista said about the real Vincentio, “Away with the dotard! Take him to prison!”

“In Padua, strangers are harassed and abused,” Vincentio said. “This is monstrous!”

Biondello arrived with Lucentio and Bianca. Biondello had told them about the situation they would face.

“We are ruined and — there he is,” Biondello said. “Deny that he is the real Vincentio or else we are all ruined!”

Lucentio did not deny his father.

Instead, he kneeled before him — and made Bianca also kneel — and said, “Pardon me, sweet father.”

“Is my sweet son still alive?” Vincentio said. He had truly been afraid that Tranio and Biondello had murdered his son so that they could steal his identity and his money and his possessions.

Seeing and hearing this, Biondello, Tranio, and the old man who had pretended to be Vincentio ran away as quickly as they could.

Bianca said, “Pardon me, dear father.”

Baptista asked her, “How have you offended me? Where is Lucentio?”

Baptista meant Tranio, who had run away, but the real Lucentio said, “Here I am. I am the real Lucentio, the real son to this man, the real Vincentio. I have married your daughter, Bianca, and have made her mine. I did that while you were blinded by counterfeits who pretended to be me and my father.”

“Here is a conspiracy, with no mistake,” Gremio said. “They have deceived us all!”

“Where is that damned villain Tranio?” Vincentio asked. “I have not forgotten how he badly treated and defied me.”

Still puzzled, Baptista asked, “Why, is not this man Cambio?”

Bianca replied, “Cambio is really Lucentio.”

“Love resulted in these miracles,” Lucentio said. “My love for Bianca made me give my identity to Tranio. He became a master, and I became a servant. He pretended to be me here in Padua. But finally and happily I have arrived at the wished-for haven of my bliss by marrying Bianca. What Tranio did, I myself forced him to do, so pardon him, sweet father, for my sake.”

Vincentio said, “I’ll slit the villain’s nose — he would have sent me to prison!”

Baptista said to Lucentio, “Listen, and answer me. Have you married my daughter without my consent?”

Vincentio replied for his son, “Do not worry, Baptista. We will make you happy with the dower we will give Bianca. Let us go inside and make everything right.”

Baptista followed him inside the house, saying, “We need to get to the bottom of all this and fix it.”

Lucentio said, “Don’t look pale, Bianca. My father will give you a good dower, and your father will not frown at you.”

Gremio said, “My attempt to be married has utterly failed, but I will go inside with everybody else. I hope to be invited to the wedding and get a share of the feast.”

Katherina said, “Husband, let’s follow all the others and see the end of this ado.”

“First kiss me, Kate, and we will.”

“What, kiss you in the middle of the street?”

Petruchio smiled and said gently, “What, are you ashamed of me?”

“No, sir, God forbid that, but I am ashamed to kiss you in the street.”

“Why, then let’s go home again. Come, let us leave now.”

“No, I will give you a kiss.”

She gave him a quick kiss and said, “Now, please, my love, let us follow the others.”

“Is not this good?” Petruchio said. “Come, my sweet Kate. Better once — at some time — than never, for never is too late to mend. Better late than never, and better late than later.”

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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