David Bruce: John Ford’s THE LADY’S TRIAL: A Retelling — Act 4, Scene 2

— 4.2 —

Trelcatio, Piero, and Futelli spoke together in an apartment in Trelcatio’s house. Trelcatio was Lord Auria’s uncle.

Trelcatio said, “Members of the council are already sitting: I will arrive late. Now, therefore, gentlemen, this house is free for you to use. As your intentions are sober, your pains shall be accepted.”

Futelli replied, “Mirth sometimes falls into earnest, signor.”

“We, for our parts, aim at the best,” Piero said.

They were playing a practical joke on Amoretta, old Trelcatio’s daughter, by having two foolish men court her and by telling her that the two foolish men were highly born.

Some people might think that the practical joke was cruel, but Trelcatio believed that the intentions of Futelli and Piero were basically good.

Trelcatio replied, “If you two are not aiming for the best, then you wrong yourselves and me. May you have good success!”

He exited to go to the council.

Piero said, “Futelli, it is our wisest course to follow our pastime with discretion, by which means we may ingratiate, as our business hits, our undertakings to great Auria’s favor.”

Lord Auria and Amoretta were cousins, and if Futelli and Piero were to help Amoretta get over her obsession with the highly born and the number of horses that pulled their coaches, they would help both her and by extension Lord Auria, who naturally would want his cousin to be a good person. By helping Lord Auria, Futelli and Piero could very well help themselves.

Futelli said, “I grow quite weary of this lazy custom, attending on the fruitless hopes of service for food and ragged clothing.

“A wit? That would be a shrewd preferment! Study some scurrilous jests, grow old, and beg!

“No, let them who love foul linen be admired. I’ll run a new course.”

He had been serving Lord Adurni, but he saw little hope of rising in society if he continued to do that. He wanted to find another way to rise in society.

Piero said, “Get the coin we spend. And knock on the head those who jeer our earnings.”

Music began to sound. It was a gift to Amoretta from one of her suitors.

Futelli said, “Hush, man! One suitor is coming.”

Piero said, “The other suitor follows.”

Futelli said, “Don’t be so loud.”

He saw Amoretta and said, “Here comes Madonna Sweet-lips.”

He then imitated her lisp: “Mithtreth, in thooth, forthooth, will lithp it to uth.”

Amoretta’s lisp turned S’s into Th’s, and G’s into D’s, and sometimes R’s into W’s or other sounds.

Amoretta walked over to them and said, “Dentlemen, then ye.”

She meant, “Gentlemen, den ye.”

In this society, this meant: “Gentlemen, good evening!”

She continued, “Ith thith muthic yourth, or can you tell what great man’th fiddleth made it?

“Tith vedee pretty noyth, but who thould thend it?”

Piero asked, “Don’t you yourself know, lady?”

Amoretta answered, “I do not uthe to [use to — that is, usually] thpend lip-labor upon quethtionths that I mythelf can anthwer.”

“No, sweet madam,” Futelli said. “Your lips are destined to a better use, or else the proverb fails of lisping maids.”

This is the proverb: “None kitheth like the lithping lass.”

Amoretta, who knew the proverb, said, “Kithing you mean; pway, come behind with your mockths, then. My lipths will therve the one to kith the other.”

Amoretta knew that Futelli was mocking her lisp; she didn’t let it worry her, but she did say that her lips would kiss each other.

She asked, “Now, whath neckth?”

Some singers sang these lyrics:

What ho! We come to be merry!

Open the doors! A jovial crew,

Lusty boys and free, and very,

Very, very lusty boys are we!

We can drink till all look blue,

Dance, sing, and roar.

Never give o’er

As long as we have ever an eye to see.”

The next part of the song included lisping:

Pithee, pithee, leth’s come in.

One thall all oua favours win.

Dently, dently, we thall pass;

None kitheth like the lithping lass.”

Piero said, “What! Do you call this a song?”

Amoretta answered, “Yeth, a delithious thing, and wondroth pretty.”

Futelli thought, A very country-catch!

A country-catch is a rustic song, but Futelli was also referring to Amoretta. He may have thought of her as a “cunt-try [to] catch.”

Futelli said, “Doubtless some prince most likely has sent it to celebrate your night’s repose.”

Amoretta said, “Think ye tho, thignor? It muth be, then, thome unknown obthcure pwinth who thuns the light.”

Piero said, “Perhaps he is the Prince of Darkness.”

The Prince of Darkness is the Devil.

“Of darkneth!” Amoretta said. “Who ith he?”

Futelli said, “A matchless courtier: He woos and wins more beauties to his love than all the kings on earth.”

Amoretta asked, “Whea thandeth hith court, pway?”

Futelli said, “This gentleman who is approaching, I presume, has more relation to his court than I do, and comes in time to inform you about it.”

Fulgoso the Parvenu walked over to them.

Amoretta said, “Think you tho? I’m thure you know him.”

Piero said, “Lady, you’ll perceive that it is so.”

Yes, the Prince of Darkness probably knew something about the activities of both Futelli and Piero.

Fulgoso the Parvenu thought, She seems in my first entrance to admire me. I declare that she eyes me all over. Fulg, she’s thine own!

Piero said, “Noble Fulgoso.”

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “Did you hear the music? It was I who brought it. Wasn’t it tickling? Ah, ha!”

Amoretta asked, “Pway, what pwinth thent it?”

She thought that Fulgoso was the man-servant of a prince who had sent the music.

Using the majestic plural, Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “Prince! No prince, but we. We set the ditty and composed the song. There’s not a note of music or foot of verse in it but our own and the pure trodden mortar of this brain. We can do things and things.”

The mortar of his brain cemented the music and words together. The mortar of his brain can be described as completely trodden.

Amoretta said, “Dood! Thing it youa thelf, then.”

“No, no,” Fulgoso the Parvenu said. “I could never sing more than a tomcat or even an owlet. But you shall hear me whistle it.”

He whistled.

Amoretta said, “Thith thing’th thome jethter. Thurely he belongth to the Pwinth of Darkneth.”

Piero said, “Yes, and I’ll tell you what his office is. His prince delights himself exceedingly in birds of diverse kinds; this gentleman is the keeper and instructor of his blackbirds. He learned his skill first from his father’s wagon-driver.”

Amoretta said, “It ith wonderful to thee by what thrange means thome men are raised to plathes.”

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “I do hear you, and I thank you heartily for your good wills in setting forth my abilities, but what I live on is simple trade of money from my lands.

“Hang spongers and parasites! I am no cheater or trickster!”

Amoretta asked, “Ith it pothible?”

Guzman the Spaniard walked over to them.

Amoretta asked, “Bleth uth. Who’th thith?”

“Oh, it is the man of might,” Futelli said.

Guzman the Spaniard said, “May my address to beauty lay no scandal upon my martial honor, since even Mars, whom, as in war, in love I imitate, could not resist the shafts of Cupid; therefore, as with the god of war, I deign to stoop.”

“To deign” is “to condescend.” He was condescending to stoop and court Amoretta.

He continued, “Lady, grant, Love’s goddess like, to yield your fairer hand to these lips, the portals of valiant breath that has overturned an army.”

He did well to compare Amoretta to Love’s goddess: Venus. His breath, however, had a quality in addition to valiant: His breath was bad.

Amoretta said, “May faya weather protect me! What a thorm ith thith?”

Futelli said to Guzman, “Oh, Don, keep off at a further distance — yet a little further; don’t you see how your strong breath has terrified the lady?”

Guzman the Spaniard said, “I’ll stop the breath of war, and breathe as gently as a perfumed pair of sucking bellows in some sweet lady’s chamber, for I can speak lion-like or sheep-like, when I please.”

Futelli said, “Stand by, then, without noise, for a while, brave Don, and let her only view your body parts; they’ll take her.”

To “take” a woman can mean to have sex with her.

“I’ll publish them in silence,” Guzman the Spaniard said.

Piero said, “Stand over there, Fulgoso the magnificent.”

“Here?” Fulgoso the Parvenu asked.

“Just there,” Piero said. “Let her survey you both. You’ll be her choice — never doubt it, man.”

“I cannot doubt it, man,” Fulgoso the Parvenu replied.

“But don’t speak until I tell you,” Piero said.

“May I whistle?” Fulgoso the Parvenu asked.

“A little to yourself, to pass the time,” Piero said.

Amoretta asked Futelli, “They are both foolth, you thay?”

Futelli replied, “But listen to what they say. It will entertain you.”

Piero said to her, “Don shall begin.”

He then said to Guzman, “Begin, Don. She has surveyed your outwards and your inwards, through the tears and wounds of your apparel.”

“She is politic,” Guzman the Spaniard said. “My outside, lady, shrouds an obscured prince.”

Amoretta said, “I thank ye for your muthic, pwinth.”

Guzman the Spaniard thought, My words are music to her.

Amoretta continued, “The muthic and the thong you thent me by thith whithling thing, your man.”

Guzman the Spaniard thought, She has mistaken Fulgoso for my serving-man! God of Love, thou have been just.

Fulgoso the Parvenu thought, I will not stay quiet! To be mistaken for his serving-man! It is time to speak before my time.

He said out loud, “Oh, scurvy! I the serving-man of this man, who has no means for food or even ragged clothing, and who has tears in his clothing seams!”

Guzman said, “I have with this one rapier —”

Piero interrupted, “He has no other.”

Guzman the Spaniard continued, “— passed through a field of pikes, whose heads I lopped as easily as the bloody-minded youth lopped off the poppy heads —”

Sextus Tarquinius sent a messenger to ask his father, Tarquinius Superbus (the last king of Rome) how he could conquer the city of Gabii. His father, who was in his garden, took out his sword and decapitated the tallest flowers. Sextus Tarquinius understood that to mean that he should kill the most important men in the city.

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “The puppet-heads.”

Don Quixote attacked some puppets in the belief that they were Moors.

Guzman the Spaniard sputtered, “Have I … have I … have I —”

He meant: Have I attacked puppets?

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “Thou lie, thou have not, and I’ll maintain it.”

Fulgoso meant that Guzman had not passed through a field of pikes, whose heads he had lopped.

Guzman the Spaniard said, “Have I — but let that pass, for even if my famous acts were damned to silence, yet my descent shall crown me thy superior.”

Amoretta, who was interested in high birth, said, “That I would lithen to.”

Guzman the Spaniard said, “Listen and wonder. My great-great-grandsire was an ancient duke. He was given the name Desver di Gonzado.”

The Spanish word “desvergonzado” means “shameless.”

Futelli said to Amoretta, “That’s, in Spanish, an incorrigible rogue without a fellow — an unmatched rogue. Guzman thinks we don’t understand that.”

Guzman the Spaniard said, “My grandfather was hight [was called] Argozile.”

Futelli said to Amoretta, “He was an arrant, arrant thief-leader. Please note — and mock — it.”

Guzman the Spaniard said, “My grandsire by the mother’s side was a conde: Conde Scrivano.”

A condeis a Spanish count.

Futelli said to Amoretta, “He was a crop-eared scrivener.”

A punishment of the time was to crop — cut off the top of — an offender’s ears.

A scrivener was a scribe: someone who copied or wrote documents for pay.

Guzman the Spaniard continued, “Whose son, my mother’s father, was a marquis: Hijo di puto.”

Hijo di putois Spanish for “son of a bitch.”

Piero said to Amoretta, “That’s the son of a whore.”

Guzman the Spaniard said, “And my renowned sire, Don Picaro —”

The Spanish picaromeans “rogue.”

Futelli said to Amoretta, “In the proper sense, that means a rascal.”

He then said, louder, “Oh, brave Don!”

Guzman the Spaniard said, “Hijo di una pravada —

Piero said, “He goes on. The name means ‘Son of a branded bitch.’”

Criminals could be branded.

Piero then said, louder, “High-spirited Don!”

Guzman the Spaniard said, “He had honors both by sea and land, to wit —”

Futelli said to Amoretta, “The galleys and Bridewell.”

The honors by sea were being forced to row a galley-ship. The honors by land were being sentenced to serve a prison term in Bridewell Prison in London.

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “I’ll not endure it. To hear a canting mongrel —

“Hear me, lady!”

Guzman the Spaniard objected, “It is no fair play.”

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “I don’t care whether it’s fair or foul.”

He wanted his turn to describe his heritage.

He continued, “I from a king derive my pedigree. King Oberon was his name, from whom my father, the mighty and courageous Mountibanco, was lineally descended; and my mother — in right of whose blood I must always honor the lower Germany — was a Harlequin.”

Oberon is King of the Fairies in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

A mountebank is a wandering showman who sells quack medicine.

A harlequin is a buffoon or a Fool (jester) in traditional pantomime.

Futelli said, “He’ll blow up Guzman the Spaniard presently by his mother’s side.”

His mother’s side came from “Lower Germany,” which is sometimes used to refer to the Low Countries or Netherlands.

Fulgoso the Parvenu continued, “Her father was Grave Hans Van Heme, the son of Hogen Mogen, dat de droates did sneighen of veirteen hundred Spaniards in one neict.”

Hogen mogen” are Dutch words meaning, roughly, “high mightinesses.”

Out of patriotism, Fulgoso had used a heavy Dutch accent for part of the sentence. He meant: “… that the throats did cut of fourteen hundred Spaniards in one night.”

Or, possibly, he had used a heavy Dutch accent in an attempt to keep Guzman the Spaniard from understanding what he was saying.

Guzman the Spaniard said, “Oh, diabolo!”

Diablois Spanish for “devil.”

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “Neither ten thousand devils nor ten thousand diabolosshall frighten me from reciting my pedigree.

“My uncle, Yacob Van Flagon-drought [drink from a flagon], with Abraham Snortenfert [snort and fart], and youngster Brogen-foh [brag and fight], with fourscore hargubush [portable guns], managed by well-lined butter-boxes [butter-loving Dutchmen], took a thousand Spanish jobbernowls [blockheads] by surprise, and beat a sconce about their ears.”

A sconce can be 1) a lantern, 2) a candlestick, 3) a head, or 4) a small fort.

Guzman the Spaniard said, “My fury is now but justice on thy forfeit life.”

He was so angry because of Fulgoso’s words against the Spanish that he felt justified in killing Fulgoso.

He drew his sword.

Amoretta said, “Alath … they thall not fight.”

Her words were ambiguous. She was sorrowful either because they would fight and she did not want them to, or she was sorrowful because she knew that they would not fight.

“Fear not, sweet lady,” Futelli said.

Piero said to Fulgoso and Guzman, “Be advised, great spirits.”

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “My fortunes bid me to be wise in duels. Or else, hang it, who cares?”

If Fulgoso and Guzman fought a duel and Fulgoso died, he would lose his life and a fortune. But if Guzman died, he would lose only his life. It did not make good economic sense for Fulgoso to fight a duel.

Guzman the Spaniard said, “My honor is my tutor, already tried and known.”

“Why, there’s the point,” Fulgoso the Parvenu said. “My honor is my tutor, too. Noblemen fight in their own persons! I scorn it! It is out of fashion. There’s none but harebrained youths of mettle who do it.”

The word “mettle” means “character.”

Piero said, “Yet don’t put up your swords; it is the pleasure of the fair lady that you quit the field with brandished blades in hand.”

Futelli said, “And in addition, to show your suffering valor, as her equal favorites, you both should take a competence of kicks. Each of you should get your fair share of kicks.”

Guzman the Spaniard and Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “What!”

Futelli and Piero said as they kicked them: “Like this! And this! Go away, you pair of stinkards!”

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “Phew! As it were.”

He whistled.

Guzman the Spaniard said, “Why, since it is her pleasure, I dare and will endure it.”

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “Phew!”

Honor demanded that Fulgoso and Guzman fight Futelli and Piero, but Fulgoso and Guzman were unwilling to do that.

Piero said, “Go away, but stay below.”

As a verb, the word “below” can mean “humble yourself and bring yourself low.” As an adjective, it can mean “unworthy of.”

“Stay below” can mean, of course, stay at a lower level. Currently, they may be in a room on the second floor of Trelcatio’s house.

Futelli said, “Budge not, I order you both, until you have further leave.”

Guzman the Spaniard said, “My honor claims the last foot in the field.”

Fulgoso the Parvenu said, “I’ll lead the vanguard — the front part of the army — then.”

“Yet more?” Futelli said. “Go away now!”

Fulgoso and Guzman exited.

“Aren’t these precious suitors?” Futelli said.

Trelcatio entered the room and asked, “What tumults frighten the house?”

Futelli said, “There was a pair of castrels — hunting hawks — that fluttered, sir, about this lovely game, your daughter, but they dared not give the souse and so they took to hedge.”

A “souse” is the swooping of a bird at its prey.

A bird will hide in a hedge in order to be safe.

Piero said, “Mere haggards, buzzards, kites.”

These are kinds of birds.

Amoretta said, “I thcorn thuch trumpery; and will thape my luff henthforth ath thall my father betht direct me.”

A luff is a front sail. Amoretta was saying that she would from now on take her father’s advice.

The practical joke of Futelli and Piero seemed to have worked. Amoretta had said that she was willing to obey her father, who was more sensible than she.

Trelcatio said, “Why now thou sing in tune, my Amoretta —”

He then said to Futelli and Piero, “And, my good friends, you have, like wise physicians, prescribed a healthful diet: I shall think on a bounty for your pains, and will present you to noble Auria, such as your descents — and deserts — commend, but for the present we must leave this room to privacy; they are coming —”

Amoretta said, “Please don’t leave me, dentlemen.”

Futelli said, “We are your servants.”

They exited.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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