David Bruce: John Ford’s LOVE’S SACRIFICE: A Retelling — Act1, Scene 2

— 1.2 —

In another room in the palace, Ferentes and Colona talked. Colona — Petruchio’s daughter — loved Ferentes, a lecherous courtier.

“Madam, by this light I vow that I am your loving servant,” Ferentes said. “I am only yours, especially yours.”

The word “servant” can mean, as it does here, “lover.” The verb “serve” can mean “render sexual service.”

He continued, “Time, like a turncoat — a reversible coat, and so metaphorically someone who reverses principles — may order and disorder the outward fashions of our bodies, but shall never enforce a change on the constancy of my mind. Sweet Colona, fair Colona, young and sprightful lady, do not let me in the best of my youth languish in my earnest affections.”

“Why should you seek, my lord, to purchase glory by the disgraceful seduction of a defenseless, vulnerable maiden?” Colona asked.

“I confess, too,” Ferentes replied, “that I am in every way so unworthy of the first-fruits of thy embraces, so far beneath the riches of thy merit, that it can be no honor to thy reputation to rank me in the number of thy devotees.”

He was telling the truth.

He continued, “Yet prove me to see how true, how firm I will stand to thy pleasures, to thy command; and, as time shall serve, be ever thine.”

The verb “prove” can mean 1) “put to the test,” or 2) “try sexually.” The words “how firm I will stand” have a sexual meaning. One meaning of “to stand” is “to have an erection.”

He continued, “Now, please, dear Colona —”

She interrupted, “Well, well, my lord, I have no heart of flint. Or if I had, you know how to wear it down and overcome it by the use of cunning words, but —”

Ferentes interrupted, “— but what? Lovely Colona, do not pity and regret thy own gentleness — thy own temperament that makes thee respond positively to me. Shall I? Speak, tell me whether I shall. Say but yes, and our wishes are fulfilled.”

“How shall I say yes, when my fears say no?” Colona asked.

“You will not fail to meet me in two hours, sweet?” Ferentes asked.

“No — yes, yes, I would have said,” Colona said. “How my tongue trips!”

“I take that promise and that double ‘yes’ as an assurance of thy faith. In the grove, good sweet, remember; in any case alone — do you hear, love? — bring with you not so much as your Duchess’ little dog — you’ll not forget? — two hours from now — think on it, and don’t miss our assignation. Until then —”

“Oh, if you should prove false, and love another!” Colona said.

“If I do, then defy and reject me!” Ferentes said. “I’ll be all thine, and a servant only to thee, only to thee.”

Colona exited.

Ferentes said to himself, “Very surpassingly good! Three chaste women in our courts here in Italy are enough to discredit a whole nation of that sex. He who is not a cuckold or a bastard is an extraordinarily happy man, for a chaste wife, or a mother who never stepped and slept awry, are wonders, wonders in Italy.”

To Ferentes, three chaste women in the court were enough to destroy the reputation of an Italy filled with licentious women, and he was doing his best to ensure that there were not three chaste women in the court. He would do that by seducing them.

He continued, “By God’s life! I have got the knack of it, and I am every day more active and busy in my trade of seduction: It is a sweet sin, this moral lapse of mortality — this mortal sin — and I have tasted enough for one passion of my senses.”

The one passion of his senses was erotic rapture.

For a sin to be mortal, it must be intrinsically evil and the person who commits the sin must know that it is intrinsically evil.

Ferentes looked up and said, “Here comes more work for me.”

Julia, the daughter of Nibrassa, entered the room. She served as a lady-in-waiting to Fiormonda. She looked sad.

Ferentes asked, “And how does my own Julia? Mew upon this sadness — bah! What’s the reason you are melancholy? Whither away, wench? Where are you going?”

In this society, the word “wench” could be a term of affection.

“It is well,” Julia said, sarcastically. “There was a time when your smooth tongue would not have mocked my griefs, and had I been more protective of my honor and chastity, you would have still been as lowly as you were.”

Julia had helped to advance Ferentes at court.

“Lowly!” Ferentes said, deliberately misinterpreting what she had said. “Why, I am sure I cannot be much more lowly than I am to thee; thou bring me on my bare knees, wench, twice in every four-and-twenty hours, besides half-bouts instead of bevers. “

“Bevers” are “midday snacks.” According to what Ferentes had said, Julia was taking him away from midday snacks in order to have quickies with him in addition to twice-daily longer bouts of lovemaking. If “bevers” was used metaphorically, then he and Julia were engaging in heavy petting instead of light kissing occasionally during the day.

He then asked, “What must we next do, sweetheart?”

One meaning of “to do” is “to have sex.”

“Break vows on your side,” Julia said. “I expect nothing else. But every day look when some newer choice may violate your honor and my trust. Every day look for a new woman to seduce.”

“Indeed, in truth! What do you mean by that, I ask? I hope I neglect no opportunity to serve your nunquam satis. I hope I have done nothing to be called in question for.”

Nunquam satis” is Latin for “never enough.” Ferentes was using it to refer to Julia’s sexual appetite.

He continued, “Go, thou are as fretting as an old grogram.”

“Grogram” is a coarse material. A garment made of it would chafe delicate skin.

He continued, “I vow by this hand of mine that I love thee for it; it becomes thee so prettily to be angry. Well, if thou should die, then farewell to all love with me forever! Go. I’ll meet thee soon in thy lady’s back-lobby, I will, wench; look for me.”

“But shall I be assured that you will be mine?” Julia asked.

“I am all thine,” Ferentes said. “I will reserve my best ability, my heart, my honor only to thee, only to thee. Have mercy on me — leave! I hear company coming on. Remember, soon I am all thine, I will live perpetually only for thee. Leave!”

Juliaexited.

Ferentes said to himself, “By God’s foot! I wonder about what time of the year I was begotten; surely it was when the Moon was in conjunction with the Sun, and all the other planets were drunk at a celebratory morris-dance.”

Two heavenly bodies moving in the same sign of the zodiac were said to be in conjunction; Ferentes was joking that being born during the conjunction of the Sun (regarded as male) and Moon (regarded as female) had made him seek the sexual conjunction of male human and female human.

He continued, “I am haunted by my lovers above patience; my mind is not as infinite to do as my opportunities for seduction are offered of doing — I am overwhelmed with opportunities to be doing.”

“Doing” meant “having sex.”

He continued, “Chastity! I am a eunuch if I think there is any such thing; or if there is, it is among us men, for I never yet have found it in a woman who was thoroughly tempted. I have a wickedly hard task coming on, but let it pass.

“Who is coming now? My lord, the Duke’s friend! I will strive to be intimate friends with him.”

Fernando entered the room.

Ferentes greeted him: “My noble Lord Fernando!”

“My Lord Ferentes, I would exchange some words of consequence with you, but since I am, at this time, busied in more serious thoughts, I’ll pick some fitter opportunity,” Fernando said.

“I will await your pleasure, my lord,” Ferentes said. “Good day to your lordship.”

He exited.

Fernando said to himself, “I am a traitor to friendship. To where shall I run — I who, lost to reason, cannot control the flood of the unruly faction in my blood? The Duchess! Oh, the Duchess! In her smiles all my joys are epitomized. Death to my thoughts!”

He was criticizing himself because he was in love with the Duchess Bianca, his best friend’s wife.

He looked up, saw Fiormonda, and said, “My other plague comes to me.”

Fiormonda and Julia, one of her ladies-in-waiting, entered the room.

Earlier, RodericoD’Avolos had said that he would lie to Fiormonda and say that Fernando had reacted very joyfully when D’Avolos had told him that Fiormonda loved him. Most likely, he had had time to tell her that and so she now believed that Fernando loved her.

“My Lord Fernando, what, so busy meditating!” Fiormonda said. “You are a kind companion to yourself, you who love to be alone so.”

“Madam, no,” Fernando said. “I rather chose this leisure to admire the glories of this little world, this court where like so many stars, beauty and greatness shine on separate thrones in their own proper orbs. This is sweet matter for my meditation.”

“So, so, sir!” Fiormonda replied.

She then ordered, “Leave us, Julia.”

As a lady-in-waiting to Fiormonda, Julia followed orders and exited.

“Your own experience, by travel and ready, quick observation, instructs you how to place the use of speech — you are a smooth talker,” Fiormonda said. “But since you are at leisure, let’s sit together, please. We’ll pass the time a little in conversation. What have you seen abroad?”

“No wonders, lady, like these I see at home.”

“At home! Such as?”

“I beg your pardon, if my tongue, the voice of truth, reports that which is warranted by sight.”

“What sight?” Fiormonda asked.

“Look in your mirror, and you shall see a miracle.”

“What miracle?”

“Your beauty, so far above all beauties else abroad as you are in your own superlative — you surpass yourself,” Fernando said.

In other words, you are more beautiful than you are beautiful. Or perhaps, you are more “beautiful” than you are “beautiful.” This could be either a sincere compliment or a sarcastic “compliment.”

“Bah! Bah!” Fiormonda said. “Your wit has too much edge — it is too sharp.”

“I wish that my wit, or anything that I could rightly demand as mine, were but of value to express how much I serve in love the sister of my prince!” Fernando said.

“This love is for your prince’s sake, then, not for mine?”

“It is for the part of you in him, and especially much for the part of him in you,” Fernando said. “I must acknowledge and confess, madam, I observe in your affections a thing to me most strange, which makes me so much honor you the more.”

“Please tell me what it is.”

“Gladly, lady. I see how opposite to youth and custom you set before you, in the ledger of your remembrance, the proper and fit griefs of a most loyal lady for the loss of so renowned a prince as was your lord.”

He was referring to her late husband.

“Now, my good lord, say no more about him,” Fiormonda said.

“About him! I know it is a useless task in me to attempt to set him forth in his deserved praise. You better can record it; for you know how much more he exceeded other men in the most heroic virtues of worth, so much more was your loss in losing him. Praise of him! His praise would be a field too large, too spacious, for so mean an orator as I to roam in. I am not a good enough orator to praise him as much as he deserves.”

“Sir, enough,” Fiormonda said. “It is true he well deserved your labor. On his deathbed he gave this ring to me and bade me never to part with it but to the man I loved as dearly as I loved him. Yet since you know which way and how to blaze forth and celebrate his worth so rightly and so justly, in return for your deserving acts wear this for him and me.”

She held out the ring to him.

“Madam!” Fernando said.

“It’s yours, “ Fiormonda said.

“I thought you said he charged you not to give it except to a man you loved as dearly as you loved him.”

“That is true. I said so.”

“Oh, then, far be it that my unhallowed hand with any rude intrusion should annul a testament and wish ordained by the dead!” Fernando said.

“Why, man, that testament is disannulled and cancelled quite by us who live,” Fiormonda said. “Look here at me — my blood is not yet congealed. For better evidence, be yourself the judge; experience is no danger.”

A proverb of the time stated, “Experience is sometimes dangerous.”

She continued, “Cold are my sighs; but feel my lips — they are warm.”

The word “cold” can mean “gloomy.”

She kissed him.

“What does the virtuous Marquess mean?” Fernando asked.

As a Marquess, Fiormonda ranked just lower than a Duchess.

“I mean with a kiss to renew the oath to thee — an oath that while he lived was his.”

With a kiss, she had transferred to Fernando the promise she had made to her husband — to love him.

She then asked, “Have thou yet power to love?”

“To love!”

“To meet sweetness of language in discourse as sweet?”

“Madam, it would be dullness past the ignorance of common blockheads not to understand to where this favor tends,” Fernando said, “and it is a fortune so much above my fate that I could wish no greater happiness on Earth, but know that long ago I vowed to live a single — unmarried and celibate — life.”

Most likely, that was true. He loved Bianca, and if he could not have her, he would remain unmarried and celibate.

“What was it you said?” Fiormonda asked.

“I said I made a vow —”

He stopped talking because Bianca, Petruchio, Colona, and Roderico D’Avolosentered the room.

Fernando thought, Blessed deliverance! I am saved!

Fiormonda thought, Am I prevented from declaring my love to him? Damn this interruption!

“My Lord Fernando, we are well met,” Bianca said. “I have a request to make to you.”

“It is my duty, madam, to be commanded,” he replied.

“Since my lord the Duke is now disposed to mirth, the time serves well for advocating that he would be pleased to take the Lord Roseilli to his grace,” Bianca said. “He is a noble gentleman; I dare pledge my reputation that he is loyal to the state.”

She then said to Fiormonda, “And, sister-in-law, he is one who always strove, I thought, by special service and obsequious care, to win respect from you. It would be an act of gracious favor if you pleased to join with us in being suitors to the Duke for his return to court.”

“To court!” Fiormonda said.

She began to pun on “to court” as meaning “to woo.” Roseilli had recently courted Fiormonda, but she had rejected him.

Fiormonda said to Bianca, “Indeed, you have some cause to speak; Roseilli undertook, most champion-like, in honor of your picture, to win the prize while tilting on horseback in a tournament — by the Virgin Mary, he did. There’s not a groom of the equerry — the royal stables — that could have matched the jolly riding-man. Please, get him back. I do not need his service, madam, I.”

“Jolly” can mean 1) “cheerful,” 2) “gallant,” or 3) “arrogant and excessively overconfident.”

“Not need it, sister-in-law?” Bianca said. “Why, I hope you think there is no necessity in me to propose that he return to the court — that is, no necessity more than respect of honor.”

In other words, Bianca simply felt that invitingRoseilli, who had earlier been banished from the court, to return to the court — with the Duke’s good wishes — was the right thing to do.

“Honor! Bah!” Fiormonda said. “Honor is talked of more than is known by some.”

“Sister-in-law, I don’t understand these words.”

Fernando thought, Swell not, unruly thoughts!

He needed to warn himself to be careful when speaking to Bianca, whom he secretly loved. He did not want to reveal his love publicly.

He said to Bianca, “Madam, your proposal proceeds from the true touch of genuine goodness. It is a plea wherein my tongue and kneeling knee shall jointly strive to beg his highness for Roseilli’s return to the court. Your judgment rightly speaks about him; there is not in any court of Christendom a man for quality or trust more absolute and perfect.”

Fiormonda thought, What! Is that what is going on!

She had begun to suspect that Fernando loved Bianca.

Petruchio said to Bianca, “I shall forever bless your highness for your gracious kind esteem of Roseilli, my disheartened kinsman, and to add encouragement to what you undertake, I dare affirm that it is no important fault that has caused the Duke’s dislike of him.”

“I trust so, too,” Bianca said.

Roderico D’Avolos said, “Let your highness, and you all, my lords, take my advice on how to petition his excellency on Roseilli’s behalf; there is more danger in that man than is fit to be publicly reported. I could wish things were otherwise for his own sake, but I’ll assure you that you will exceedingly alter his excellency’s cheerful disposition he now is in, if you but mention the name of Roseilli to his ear. I know because I am so much acquainted with the process of his reactions.”

As would soon become apparent, he was sometimes lying and sometimes telling half-truths.

“If that is true, I am the sorrier, sir,” Bianca said. “I’m loath to move my lord to feel offence, yet I’ll risk chiding my lord and husband.”

Fernando thought, Oh, if I had India’s gold, I’d give it all to exchange one private word, one minute’s speech, with this heart-wounding beauty — Bianca!

The Duke, Ferentes, and Nibrassa entered the room.

Laughing, the Duke said, “Please, no more, Ferentes; by the faith I owe to honor, thou have made me laugh myself out of my melancholy.

“Fernando, if thou had heard told the story of the ridiculous humor of Mauruccio’s dotage, how in the winter of his age he has become a lover, thou would swear that a funny morris-dance were only a tragedy compared to that.

“Well, we will see the ‘youth.’

“What council are you holding now, sirs?”

“We, my lord, were talking about the horsemanship in France, which, as your friend Fernando reports, he thinks exceeds all other nations,” Bianca said.

“What! Why, haven’t we as gallant riders here in Italy?” the Duke asked.

“None that I know of,” Fernando replied.

“Pish, your affection for France misleads you,” the Duke said. “I dare wager a thousand ducats that not a man in France can outride Roseilli.”

Fiormonda thought, I shall requite this wrong.

The “wrong” was the support that Roseilli was getting.

“I said as much, my lord,” Bianca said.

“I have not seen him riding since my coming back,” Fernando said.

“Where is he?” the Duke asked.

Using the majestic plural, he added, “How is it we don’t see him here?”

Petruchio thought, What’s this? What’s this?

He was confused because he thought that the Duke himself had sent Roseilli away. Now he was learning that that was not the case.

“I hear he was commanded to leave the court,” Fernando said.

So he was. Roderico D’Avolos had delivered the message, but as would soon become apparent, he had misrepresented the message, making the punishment much harsher than the Duke had ordered.

RodericoD’Avolos thought,Oh, damn this villainous occasion!

Roderico D’Avolos was a plotter. He had intended to keep Roseilli away from the court for as long as he could.

The Duke said, “True, but we meant a day or two at most should be his furthest time of absence from the court. Not yet returned? Where’s D’Avolos?”

Roderico D’Avolos stepped forward and said, “My lord?”

“You know our mind,” the Duke said. “How comes it thus to pass we miss Roseilli?”

“My lord, in a sudden discontent I hear he departed towards the city of Benevento in southern Italy, determining, as I am given to understand, to travel to Seville, intending to visit his cousin, Don Pedro de Toledo, in the Spanish court.”

He was either mistaken or lying. Roseilli was still in hiding in Pavia.

“The Spanish court!” the Duke said. “Now by the blessed bones of good Saint Francis, let there be sent express post-messengers on horseback to call him back, or I will post — put — thy head beneath my foot. Bah, you! You know my mind. Look that you get him back! The Spanish court! And without our permission!”

Petruchio thought, Here’s fine juggling!

This kind of juggling is trickery. Petruchio now knew that someone had been plotting against his kinsman Roseilli.

“Good sir, be not so angry,” Bianca said.

“Bah, bah, Bianca, it is such a gross indignity. I’d rather have lost seven years’ revenue! The Spanish court!”

Fiormonda was feeling strong emotion — she did not want Roseilli to return, and she had not gotten the response she wanted from Fernando. Suddenly, her nose began to bleed.

Seeing the nosebleed, the Duke said, “Look! What ails our sister?”

“All of a sudden, I started bleeding,” Fiormonda said. “It is an ominous sign. I pray to Heaven it turn to good!”

She then said, “I beg your highness’ leave,” and exited.

The Duke said, “Look after her. Come, Fernando. Come, Bianca. Let’s strive to pass over this angry heat.”

He then said to Roderico D’Avolos, “Sirrah, see that you don’t waste time. Recall Roseilli quickly.”

A man of high rank would use “Sirrah” to refer to a man of lower rank. Here the Duke was using the word to show his anger.

The Duke added, “How we who rule the administration of a region by delegating our authority may be abused by flattering officious agents!”

The Duke of Pavia knew that Roderico D’Avolos had messed up, perhaps intentionally — and he was angry about it.

He then ordered again, “But look well after our sister.”

Everyone except Petruchio and Fernandoexited.

Petruchio asked, “Nephew, will it please you to see your friend Roseilli tonight?”

“Yes, uncle, yes,” Fernando replied.

Petruchio exited.

Alone, Fernando said, “Thus bodies walk unsouled! My eyes but follow my heart entombed in yonder goodly shrine.”

Bianca had his heart, and his eyes had followed Bianca as she walked away.

He added, “Life without her is only death’s subtle snares, and I am only a coffin to my cares.”

“Pish, your affection for France misleads you,” the Duke said. “I dare wager a thousand ducats that not a man in France can outride Roseilli.”

Fiormonda thought, I shall requite this wrong.

The “wrong” was the support that Roseilli was getting.

“I said as much, my lord,” Bianca said.

“I have not seen him riding since my coming back,” Fernando said.

“Where is he?” the Duke asked.

Using the majestic plural, he added, “How is it we don’t see him here?”

Petruchio thought, What’s this? What’s this?

He was confused because he thought that the Duke himself had sent Roseilli away. Now he was learning that that was not the case.

“I hear he was commanded to leave the court,” Fernando said.

So he was. Roderico D’Avolos had delivered the message, but as would soon become apparent, he had misrepresented the message, making the punishment much harsher than the Duke had ordered.

RodericoD’Avolos thought,Oh, damn this villainous occasion!

Roderico D’Avolos was a plotter. He had intended to keep Roseilli away from the court for as long as he could.

The Duke said, “True, but we meant a day or two at most should be his furthest time of absence from the court. Not yet returned? Where’s D’Avolos?”

Roderico D’Avolos stepped forward and said, “My lord?”

“You know our mind,” the Duke said. “How comes it thus to pass we miss Roseilli?”

“My lord, in a sudden discontent I hear he departed towards the city of Benevento in southern Italy, determining, as I am given to understand, to travel to Seville, intending to visit his cousin, Don Pedro de Toledo, in the Spanish court.”

He was either mistaken or lying. Roseilli was still in hiding in Pavia.

“The Spanish court!” the Duke said. “Now by the blessed bones of good Saint Francis, let there be sent express post-messengers on horseback to call him back, or I will post — put — thy head beneath my foot. Bah, you! You know my mind. Look that you get him back! The Spanish court! And without our permission!”

Petruchio thought, Here’s fine juggling!

This kind of juggling is trickery. Petruchio now knew that someone had been plotting against his kinsman Roseilli.

“Good sir, be not so angry,” Bianca said.

“Bah, bah, Bianca, it is such a gross indignity. I’d rather have lost seven years’ revenue! The Spanish court!”

Fiormonda was feeling strong emotion — she did not want Roseilli to return, and she had not gotten the response she wanted from Fernando. Suddenly, her nose began to bleed.

Seeing the nosebleed, the Duke said, “Look! What ails our sister?”

“All of a sudden, I started bleeding,” Fiormonda said. “It is an ominous sign. I pray to Heaven it turn to good!”

She then said, “I beg your highness’ leave,” and exited.

The Duke said, “Look after her. Come, Fernando. Come, Bianca. Let’s strive to pass over this angry heat.”

He then said to Roderico D’Avolos, “Sirrah, see that you don’t waste time. Recall Roseilli quickly.”

A man of high rank would use “Sirrah” to refer to a man of lower rank. Here the Duke was using the word to show his anger.

The Duke added, “How we who rule the administration of a region by delegating our authority may be abused by flattering officious agents!”

The Duke of Pavia knew that Roderico D’Avolos had messed up, perhaps intentionally — and he was angry about it.

He then ordered again, “But look well after our sister.”

Everyone except Petruchio and Fernandoexited.

Petruchio asked, “Nephew, will it please you to see your friend Roseilli tonight?”

“Yes, uncle, yes,” Fernando replied.

Petruchio exited.

Alone, Fernando said, “Thus bodies walk unsouled! My eyes but follow my heart entombed in yonder goodly shrine.”

Bianca had his heart, and his eyes had followed Bianca as she walked away.

He added, “Life without her is only death’s subtle snares, and I am only a coffin to my cares.”

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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