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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