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

— 4.2 —

Roderico D’Avolos and Julia talked together in another room in the palace.

“Julia, my own, speak softly,” Roderico D’Avolos said. “Have thou learned anything from this pale widgeon?”

A “widgeon” is a simpleton.

He had wanted Julia to learn from Colona what Bianca’s plans were and then tell him.

“Speak quietly,” he continued. “What does she say?”

“Ha, more than all,” Julia said. “There’s not an hour shall pass but I learn more information. She swears that ‘whole nights’ — but you know my mind. I hope you’ll give me the gown you promised me.”

Julia had begun to tell D’Avolos what he wanted to know, but first she wanted assurance that she would get the gown he had promised her.

“Honest Julia, be at peace,” Roderico D’Avolos said. “Thou are a woman who is worth a kingdom. Let me never be believed now, but I think it will be my destiny to be thy husband at last. What though thou have a child — or perhaps two?”

“Never but one, I swear,” Julia said.

“Well, one. Is that such a matter? I like thee the better for it! It shows that thou have a good tenantable and fertile womb, worth twenty of your barren, dry, bloodless devourers of youth.”

Roderico D’Avolos was capable of vivid language. Julia’s womb was “tenantable and fertile” — she was capable of bearing many children.

He continued, “But come, I will talk with thee more privately. The Duke has a journey in hand, and he will not be long absent.”

Looking up, he said, “See, he has come already. Let’s slip away quietly.”

They exited as the Duke and Bianca entered the room.

The Duke said, “Troubled? Yes, I have cause to be troubled.

“Oh, Bianca! Here was my fate engraven in thy brow. I look at this smooth, fair, polished portrait of yours — in thy cheeks, Nature summed up thy dowry: beauty. Your dowry was not wealth. Neither the miser’s god nor royalty of blood advanced thee to my bed — but love, and my hope of virtue that might equal those sweet looks did advance thee. If, then, thou should betray my trust, thy faith, to the pollution of a base desire, then thou would be a wretched woman.”

“Are you saying this out of love, or out of fear, my lord?” Bianca asked.

“Both, both,” the Duke answered.

He continued, “Bianca, know that the nightly languish of my dull, listless unrest has stamped a strong opinion on me. For, I dreamed — pay close attention to what I say — that as I in glorious pomp was sitting on my throne, while I had hemmed my best-beloved Bianca in my arms, she grabbed my red velvet cap of state, and cast it down beneath her foot and kicked it in the dust. While I — oh, it was a dream too full of ominous fate! — was stooping down to reach it, Fernando, like a traitor to his vows, clapped on my head, to my disgrace, a coronet of horns.

“But, by the honor of anointed kings, even if both of you were hidden in a burning rock of brimstone, guarded by ministers of flaming hell, I have a sword here” — he touched it — “that I would use to make my way through fire, through darkness, death, and hell, and all, to hew your lust-engendered flesh to shreds, pound you to a mortar-like paste, cut your throats, and mince your flesh to tiny pieces. Yes, I will — don’t draw back, startled — yes, I will.”

“May God have mercy and protect me!” Bianca said. “Will you murder me?”

“Yes,” the Duke said.

But then he immediately said, “Oh, I beg you for your pardon and mercy! How the rage caused by my own dreamt-of wrongs made me forget all sense of patient endurance! Don’t blame me, Bianca. One such another dream would quite distract reason and humanity itself — yet tell me wasn’t it an ominous vision?”

“It was, my lord,” Bianca said, “yet it was only a vision. For if such a guilt would hang on my honor, there would be no blame in you if you stabbed me to the heart.”

“The heart!” the Duke said. “Nay, strumpet, I would stab you to the soul; and I would tear your soul off from life in order to damn it in immortal death.”

“Oh!” Bianca said. “What do you mean, sir?”

“I am mad — insane,” the Duke said.

He then said, “Forgive me, good Bianca; I think that I am still dreaming and dreaming anew. Now, please, criticize and scold me. Sickness and these divisions in my mind so distract my senses that I regard things that are merely possible as if they were really real. To remove these distractions from my mind, I mean to hasten straight to the town of Lucca in Tuscany, where, perhaps, absence from the court and bathing in those healthful springs may soon heal me.

“In the meantime, dear sweetheart,pity my troubled heart; my griefs are extremely distressing. Yet, sweetheart, when I am gone, think about my dream.

“Who waits without, ho!”

Petruchio, Nibrassa, Fiormonda, Roderico D’Avolos, Roseilli (still disguised as a natural fool), and Fernando entered the room.

The Duke asked, “Is everything ready to journey to Lucca?”

“All is ready for your highness,” Petruchio answered.

The Duke said to Fernando, “Friend, wait; take here from me this jewel.”

He put Bianca’s arm on Fernando’s arm.

He continued, “She is in your care until my return from Lucca, honest Fernando.

“Wife, respect my friend.

“Let’s go.

“But listen to me, wife, think about my dream.”

Everyoneexcept Roseilli and Petruchioexited.

“Kinsman, one word with you,” Petruchio said. “Doesn’t this cloud acquaint you with strange novelties? That is, isn’t this cloud over the Duke strange and novel to you?

“The Duke is recently much distempered in his mind. What he means by journeying now to Lucca is to me ariddle. Can you clear away my confusion? Do you know what is happening?”

“Oh, sir, my fears exceed my knowledge,”Roseilli said, “yet I notice no less than you infer and mention. All is not well — I wish that all were well! Whosoever shall thrive, I shall be sure never to rise to satisfy my desires.”

He meant that he wanted to marry Fiormonda, which would make him rise socially, but he had no realistic hope of doing that. He also possibly meant that he would not have a chance to have an erection to satisfy his desire for her. Also, possibly, he meant that in disguise as a natural fool, he had been learning things about Fiormonda that made him no longer want to marry her.

He continued, “But, kinsman, I shall tell you more soon. In the meantime, please send my Lord Fernando to me. I want very much to speak with him.”

Petruchio looked up and said, “Look, he himself is coming here. I’ll leave you both together.”

Petruchio exited as Fernando entered the room.

Fernando said, “The Duke is on horseback and headed for Lucca. How are you now, kinsman? How do you prosper in love?”

He knew — or believed — that Roseilli wanted to marry Fiormonda.

“I fare as well as I always expected: badly,” Roseilli replied.

He added, “My lord, you are in the process of being ruined.”

“Ruined!” Fernando said. “In what way?”

“Your life lost,” Roseilli said. “I fear that your life is bought and sold; I’ll tell you how. Recently in my lady’s chamber as I by chance lay slumbering on a mat on the floor, in came the Lady Marquess, and with her Julia and Roderico D’Avolos.

“Not suspecting me because of my disguise as a natural fool, they sat down and Roderico D’Avolos said, ‘Madam, we have discovered now the nest of shame.’

“In short, my lord — for you already know as much as they reported — there was told the circumstance of all your private love and meeting with the Duchess. At last, false, treacherous D’Avolos concluded with an oath: ‘We’ll make,’ he said, ‘his heartstrings crack for this.’”

When the strings that this society believed supported the heart are broken, the person dies.

“Was he speaking of me?” Fernando asked.

He had not suspected that they were plotting against him. Also, he and Bianca had not committed adultery.

“Yes, they were speaking of you,” Roseilli said. “‘Yes,’ said the Marquess, ‘if the Duke were not a timid baby, he would seek swift vengeance; for he knew it long ago.’”

“Let him know it,” Fernando said, referring to Bianca’s love for him. “Yet I vow that she is as loyal and faithful to her wedding vows as is the Sun in Heaven, but suppose for the sake of argument that she were not loyal and faithful to her wedding vows, and the Duke knew for a fact that she were not.”

He touched his sword and said, “This sword lifted up, and guided by this arm of mine, shall guard her from an armed troop of fiends and all the earth beside.”

The word “earth” meant “humanity.”

Genesis 11:1 states, “And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech” (King James Version).

Roseilli said, “You are too over-confident, and that can lead to your destruction.”

Fernando said, “Damn him! He shall feel — but quiet! Who is coming here?”

Colona entered the room and said to Fernando, “My lord, the Duchess craves aword with you.”

“Where is she?”

“In her chamber.”

Roseilli, in character as a natural fool, said, “Here, have a sugar plum for thee —”

“Come, fool, I’ll give thee sugar plums enough,” Colona said. “Come, fool.”

Fernando thought, Let slaves in mind be servile to their fears. Our heart is high enstarred in brighter spheres.

He was saying his heart was a star embedded in one of the higher spheres of the Ptolemaic view of the universe. In the Ptolemaic view, the Earth was at the center of the universe, and the Sun, planets, and stars were embedded in various spheres that orbited the Earth. In mythology, heroes sometimes became stars.

Fernando and Colonaexited.

“I see Fernando lost already,” Roseilli said to himself. “Unless everything goes right, we shall know too late that no toil can evade the violence of fate.”

A proverb stated, “It is impossible to avoid fate.”

The disguised Roseilli followed Fernando and Colona.

***

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