David Bruce: John Ford’s LOVE’S SACRIFICE: A Retelling — Act 3, Scenes 3-4

— 3.3 —

The Duke of Pavia and Roderico D’Avolos spoke together in another room in the palace.

“Thou are a traitor,” the Duke said. “Don’t think that the gloss of sly evasion by your cunning jests and fabrications of your political schemer’s brain, shall put me off with a trick — I’ll know it, I vow I will.”

Roderico D’Avolos had mishandled the Duke’s instructions for exiling Roseilli, and so the Duke had reason to be suspicious of him.

The Duke continued, “Didn’t I note your dark, obscure, broken-off ends of half-spoken words? Your ‘wells, if all were known’? Your short ‘I don’t like that’? Your biting comments and ‘but’s? Yes, sir, I did; such broken language argues more matter — more meaning — than your subtlety and trickery shall hide. Tell me, what is it? By honor itself I’ll know.”

“What would you know, my lord?” Roderico D’Avolos said. “I confess I owe my life and service to you, as you are my prince; the one you have, the other you may take from me at your pleasure. If you want to have me killed, you can. Should I make up matter — ‘information’ — to feed your distrust, or suggest likelihoods without clear evidence? What would you have me say? I know nothing.”

“Thou lie, dissembler!” the Duke said. “On thy brow I read crazed horrors expressed in thy looks. On thy allegiance, D’Avolos, as ever thou hope to live in favor with us, tell me what, judging by the faltering of thy speech, thy knowledge can reveal. By the faith we bear to sacred justice, we swear, whether the information is good or it is evil, thy reward shall be our special thanks and love without boundaries. Speak, on thy duty; we, thy prince, command it.”

“Oh, my disaster!” Roderico D’Avolos said. “My lord, I am so enthralled by those powerful repetitions of love and duty that I cannot conceal what I know of your dishonor. I cannot — it is as if I have been influenced by a magic charm.”

“Dishonor!” the Duke said. “Then my soul is divided in two with fear; I half predict my misery. Speak on. Speak it at once, for I am great with grief.”

“I trust your highness will pardon me; yet I will not deliver a syllable that shall be less innocent than truth itself.”

“By all our wish of joys, we pardon thee,” the Duke said.

“Get away from me, cowardly servility!” Roderico D’Avolos said.

This gave the appearance of him trying to get the courage to tell the Duke “truth” that would displease him.

He then said to the Duke, “My service is noble, and my loyalty is an armor of brass; in short, my lord, and in plain language, you are a cuckold.”

“Keep in the word — a ‘cuckold!’” the Duke said.

Now that he had heard the word, the Duke wanted Roderico D’Avolos to keep it inside, unspoken.

“Fernando is your rival, he has stolen your Duchess’ heart, he has murdered friendship, he has put a cuckold’s horns on your head, and he laughs at your horns,” Roderico D’Avolos said.

“My heart is split!”

“Take courage, be a prince in resoluteness,” Roderico D’Avolos said. “I knew it would nettle and vex you in the fiery-hot temper of your nature.”

This society believed that humans were composed of four elements: earth, air, water, and fire. The Duke seemed grief-stricken rather than angry, and by mentioning fire, Roderico D’Avolos was trying to manipulate the Duke into becoming angry and seeking revenge.

Roderico D’Avolos continued, “I was loath to have given the first report of this more than ridiculous moral blemish to all patience or moderation, but, oh, my lord, what would not a subject do to prove his loyalty to his sovereign? Yet, good sir, take it as quietly as you can. I must say that it is a foul fault, but what man is he under the Sun who is free from the path of his destiny? Maybe she will in time amend the errors of her youth, or it would a great happiness in you, if you could not believe that she is unchaste — that’s the surest path, my lord, in my poor counsel.”

“The icy current of my frozen blood is kindled up in agonies as hot as flames of burning sulphur and brimstone,” the Duke replied. “Oh, my fate! A cuckold! Had my Dukedom’s whole inheritance been torn apart, my honors leveled in the dust, as long as she, that wicked woman, might have slept chaste in my bosom, it would have been all sport and amusement. And he, that villain, that viper to my heart — that he should be the man! Death above utterance!”

In this society, vipers were known for ingratitude. According to the Roman naturalist Pliny, vipers were born by eating their way out of their mother. One of Aesop’s fables was about a man who found a frozen viper. Taking pity on it, he held it against his chest. When the viper had warmed up, it bit the man.

“Take heed that you prove this is true,” the Duke said.

Roderico D’Avolos began, “My lord —”

“If you don’t prove that this is true, I’ll tear thee joint by joint,” the Duke said. “Phew! I think that this should not be … Bianca! Why, I took her from lower than a bondage — a slavery! … Hell of hells! … See that you make it good. See that you prove that this is true.”

“As for that, I wish that it were as good as I would make it!” Roderico D’Avolos said. “I can, if you will control your mental agitations, simply bring you to where you shall see it, no more.”

“See it!”

“Yes, see it, if that is sufficient proof. I, for my part, will slack no service that may testify to my sincerity.”

“Enough,” the Duke said.

Fernando entered the room.

The Duke asked, “What is your news, Fernando?”

“Sir, the Abbot of Monaco is now at the point of arrival; all your servants await your presence.”

“We will give him a welcome as shall befit our love and his eminence. Come, my own best Fernando, my dear friend.”

The Duke exited with Fernando.

“Excellent!” Roderico D’Avolos said to himself.

Referring to the horns of a cuckold, he joked, “Now for a horned Moon.”

A horned Moon is a crescent Moon.

Music started playing.

He said, “But I hear the preparation for the welcome of this great abbot. Let him come and go — that matters nothing to this. While he rides abroad in hopes to purchase a purple hat, our Duke shall as earnestly heat the pericranion of his noddle with a yellow hood at home.”

Roderico D’Avolos was accusing Bianca’s uncle of Simony: the buying of a church office. In particular, he was accusing Bianca’s uncle of buying a purple hat — actually, the red hat of a Cardinal. In this society, the color purple was defined as including various shades of red.

Roderico D’Avolos was in a good mood, and so he was playfully using funny-sounding words. “Pericranion” meant “brain,” and “noddle” meant “head.”

“Hoods” were sometimes associated with fools. In some cases, the fool would wear a hood to which he was not entitled.A passage in Robert Greene’s play The Scottish History of James the Fourthstates, “For the greatest clerks are not the wisest, and a fool may dance in a hood as well as a wise man in a bare frock.” In this case, the fool is wearing the hood of a wise man such as an academic, ecclesiastic, or civil official, and the wise man is wearing a smock-frock, the clothing of a poor person or a natural fool. The Duke of Pavia was supposed to act like a wise man, but now he was acting like a natural fool.

The color yellow was associated with jaundice and sickness.

The Duke would heat his head with anger that arose from his foolishly believing Roderico D’Avolos’ words.

Roderico D’Avolos continued, “I hear them coming.”

Music sounded.

Some servants, carrying torches, entered the room.

The Duke, followed by Fernando, Bianca, Fiormonda, Petruchio, and Nibrassa entered the room at one side.

Two friars, the Abbot of Monaco, and some attendants entered the room at the other side.

The Duke and the Abbot met and greeted each other.

Bianca and the rest greeted the Abbot of Monaco, and they were greeted in return.

They formed themselves in ranks and walked through the room as the choir sang.

They were going to eat a meal together.

“On to your victuals,” Roderico D’Avolos said to himself. “Some of you, I know, feed upon wormwood.”

Wormwood is a bitter-tasting plant.

The Duke was now feeding upon bitterness.Petruchio and Nibrassa were bitter because Ferentes had made their daughters pregnant.

Roderico D’Avolos followed the others.

— 3.4 —

Holding napkins since they had just come from supper, Petruchio and Nibrassa met in an apartment in the palace.

Petruchio called, “The Duke’s about to rise from the table. Are you ready?”

“We are all ready,” Colona replied from outside the apartment.

“Then, Petruchio, arm thyself with courage and resolution,” Nibrassa said, “and do not shrink from being supported by thy own virtue. Your virtue will tell you that this is the right thing to do.”

“I am resolved to do this,” Petruchio said.

He called, “Fresh lights! I hear them coming.”

Some attendants entered the apartment, carrying candles.

The Duke, the Abbot of Monaco, Bianca, Fiormonda, Fernando, and Roderico D’Avolos entered the apartment.

“Right reverend uncle-in-law,” the Duke said, “although our minds are deficient in giving as good a welcome as our hearts would wish, yet we will strive to show how much we feel joy in your presence with a courtly comic performance.

“May it please you to sit.”

“Great Duke, your worthy honors to me shall always have a place in my best thanks,” the Abbot of Monacoreplied. “Since you through your treatment of me so much respect the church, I’ll promise you this — at my next returnhis holiness shall grant you an indulgence both large and general.”

The indulgence would lessen or remove the punishment in the next life for sins committed in this life.

The Duke said, “Our humble duty to you!

“Seat yourselves, my lords.

“Now let the maskers enter.”

All of the performers in the antic entertainment wore masks.

Ferentes, Roseilli, and Mauruccio entered at different doors; they danced for a short time.

Colona, Julia, and Morona, who were wearing odd antic costumes, entered and danced.

The male maskers gazed at them, and the women invited them to dance. They danced various measures of music together.

Then the women surrounded Ferentes.

Mauruccio and Roseilli, having been shaken off by the women, stood at different ends of the stage watching the dance.

The women joined hands and danced around Ferentes with several complimenting offers of courtship, and then they suddenly fell upon him and stabbed him.

He fell, and the women ran out through different doors.

The music ceased.

Ferentes screamed, “Take off my costume! I am slain in jest — as if it were a joke! A pox upon your foreign feminine antics!”

In this society, performers were male. Fernando had gotten the idea of using female performers after seeing some female performers in Brussels.

Ferentes said, “Pull off my mask! I shall bleed to death before I have time to feel where I am hurt.

“Duke, I am slain.

“Off with my mask! For Heaven’s sake, take off my mask!”

“Slain!” the Duke said. “Take his mask off.”

Someone unmasked Ferentes.

The Duke said, “We are betrayed. Seize on them! Two are yonder.”

The two were Mauruccio and Roseilli, still in disguise as a natural fool.

The Duke then said, “Bear up, Ferentes.”

He ordered some attendants, “Follow the rest.”

He then said, “This is manifest and blatant treachery!”

The Abbot of Monaco said, “Holy Saint Bennet, what a sight is this!”

Julia, Colona, and Morona returned. They were not wearing masks, and each was carrying a child in her arms.

“Be not amazed, great princes, but grant us your audience and listen to us,” Julia said. “We are the ones who have done this deed. Look here at the pledges — the children — of this false man’s lust. We were betrayed in our innocence. He swore and pledged his truth and fidelity to marry each of us. He abused and deceived us all. We were unable to revenge our public shames except by his public fall, which thus we have contrived and brought about, nor do we blush to call the glory of this murder ours.We did it, and we’ll justify the deed, for when in sad complaints we claimed his vows, his answer was reproach.

“Villain, is it true?”

Colona said, “I was ‘too quickly won,’ you slave!”

Morona said, “I was ‘too old,’ you dog!”

Julia said, “I — and I never shall forget the wrong — I was ‘not pretty enough.’ Not pretty enough for thee, thou monster! Let me cut his gall! Not pretty enough! Oh, scorn! Not pretty enough!”

She stabbed him.

In this culture, the phrase “break his gall” — which is close to “cut his gall” — means “break his spirit.”

Ferentes moaned with pain.

“Stop, you monstrous women!” the Duke said. “Do not add murder to lust. Your lives shall pay the penalty for this offense.”

“A pox upon all codpiece extravagancy — all sexual immorality!” Ferentes said. “I am peppered, done for, finished.”

He moaned and then said, “Duke, forgive me!

“Had I rid any tame beasts rather than Barbary wild colts, I had not been thus jerked out of the saddle.”

His riding was a sexual riding.

Ferentes continued, “My crime was in my lust, and the loss of my life has atoned for it. Vengeance on all wild whores, I say! Oh, it is true. Farewell, generation of hackneys! Oh!”

“Hackneys” was a slang word for prostitutes.

He died.

“He is dead,” the Duke said. “To prison with those monstrous strumpets!”

“Wait,” Petruchio said. “I’ll answer for my daughter. I’ll assume responsibility for her.”

“And I for mine,” Nibrassa said.

He whispered, “Oh, well done, girls!”

“And I will answer for yonder gentlewoman, sir,” Fernando said.

By assuming responsibility for the women, these men were asking for the women to undergo house arrest rather than prison. The men would assume responsibility for the women not running away to escape any punishment.

“My goodlord, I am an innocent in the business,” Mauruccio said.

“To prison with him!” the Duke said. “Take Mauruccio to prison! And carry Ferentes’ body away from here.”

“Here’s fatal sad presages,” the Abbot of Monaco said, “but it is just that he who has lived in lust dies by murder.”

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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