David Bruce: John Ford’s THE FANCIES, CHASTE AND NOBLE: A Retelling — Act 5, Scene 1

— 5.1 —

Octavio, Troylo-Savelli, Secco, and Nitido met in an apartment in the palace.

Octavio said, “No more of these complaints and clamors! Have we neither enemies abroad nor waking sycophants, who, peering through our actions, await an opportunity for which they watch to lay an opportunity open to vulgar talk, but among ourselves, some whom we call our own must practice scandal out of a liberty of ease and fullness against our honor? We shall quickly order an extreme re-establishment of peace, sirs, and you will find it.”

He wanted peace in the palace. There were enemies and sycophants waiting for an opportunity to strike, and lack of peace in the palace might give them that opportunity. To anyone not keeping the peace, he would give an extreme punishment.

Troylo-Savelli said, “When servants’ servants, aka slaves, once relish license of good opinion from a noble nature — that is, being in the good graces of their master — they take upon themselves the boldness to abuse such interest, and lord it over their fellows, as if they were exempt from that condition of servitude.”

Octavio replied, “He who doesn’t know how to rule at home his household is unfit to manage public matters.”

He then said to Secco, “You must be jealous, you puppy! And of a boy, too!”

A puppy is a foolish young boy or man. The boy was Nitido.

Octavio continued:

“You raise uproars and bandy noise among young maidens.

“You keep revels in your madness.

“You use the authority of giving punishment.

“A fool must fool you.

“And this is all only a pastime to you — so you think!”

Nitido said, “With your good lordship’s favor, since then, Spadone has confessed that it was a trick put on Secco to get some revenge meant for me.”

Troylo-Savelli said, “He vowed it to be the truth before the ladies, in my hearing.”

Octavio replied, “Sirrah, I’ll turn you again to your shop and trinkets, your suds and pan of charcoal. Take your damsel, the grand old rag of beauty, your death’s-head, and try then what business reverence can trade in. Fiddle, and play your pranks among your neighbors, so that you may roar throughout all the town. Now you simper and look like a shaved skull.”

Nitido said, “This is what comes from prating — from talking idly.”

Secco said, “I am, my lord, a worm. Please, my lord, tread on me. I will not turn again. Alas, I shall never venture to hang my barber pole out, on my knees I beg it, on my bare knees. I will go down before my wife, and do what she will have me do, all I can do. Nay, more, if she will have it, I will ask for her forgiveness, be an obedient husband, and never cross her, unless sometimes in kindness.

“Seignior Troylo, speak one sweet word for me. I’ll swear it was in my madness. I said I knew not what, and I’ll swear that you brought no creature among the ladies.

“Nitido, I’ll forswear thee, too.”

He had previously sworn that Troylo-Savelli and Nitido had brought Prugnuolo (the disguised Romanello) among the ladies. Now he was prepared to swear that they had not done that.

Octavio said, “Wait awhile our pleasure. You shall know more soon.”

Secco replied, “Remember me now.”

Secco and Nitido exited.

Octavio said, “Troylo, thou are my brother’s son, and you are nearest in blood to me; thou have been next in counsels. Those ties of nature (if thou can consider how much they do engage) work by instinct in every worthy or ignoble comment that can concern me.”

Because Troylo-Savelli was a close relative who advised him, he shared whatever reputation — good or bad — that Octavio acquired.

Troylo-Savelli said, “Sir, those ties of nature have done that, and they shall, as long as I bear life.”

Octavio said, “From henceforth the stewardship that my carefulness for the honor of our family has undertaken must yield the world account and make clear reckonings; but now we stand suspected of having done evil in our just and even courses of action.”

Using the majestic plural, he was saying that he had been acting ethically, but he had learned — from Castamela — that she, and no doubt others, suspected him of having behaved unethically concerning his stewardship of the three Fancies.

Because Troylo-Savelli was so close to him, he was also implicated in the imputation of bad conduct.

Troylo-Savelli said, “But when time shall wonder at how much it was mistaken in the issue of honorable and secure arrangements for the three Fancies, your wisdom, crowned with laurels of a justice deserving approbation, will quite foil the ignorance of popular opinion.”

Octavio said, “Gossip is merry with my feats; my dotage, undoubtedly, the vulgar voices sing it like a carol.”

Troylo-Savelli said, “True, sir; but Romanello’s late admission while in disguise to the Fancies warrants that giddy confidence of gossip without all contradiction.

“Now Romanello is regarded as true as an oracle, and is so received by all: I am confirmed that the lady Castamela by this time has proven to be Romanello’s scorn as well as a cause of his laughter.”

Octavio said, “And we along with her are the topics of his table-talk. Does she stand in any firm affection to him?”

Troylo-Savelli said, “None, sir, no more than her usual nobleness afforded out of a civil custom.”

He meant that Castamela had good manners and was polite to Romanello, but she had no special liking for him.

Octavio said, “We are resolute in our determination, and we intend quickly to cause these clouds of approbation to fly off; the arranging of it, nephew, is thine.”

Troylo-Savelli said, “Your care and love command me.”

Livio entered the room and said, “I come to you, my lord, as a petitioner.”

Octavio said, “Honest Livio, you are perfectly honest, really; no fallacies and no flaws are in thy truth. I shall promote thee to a more eminent position.”

Troylo-Savelli said, “Livio deserves it.”

Octavio said, “What is thy petition to me? Speak boldly.”

Livio said, “Please, discharge me from my position as master of your horse. It would be better to live as a yeoman, and live with men, than oversee your horses, while I myself am ridden like a jade.”

A jade is a bad horse.

A yeoman has a small estate.

If Livio were to cease being master of the horse and become a yeoman, his social status would be much lower. But according to him, he would be treated much more respectfully.

Livio’s words were insulting to Octavio.

Octavio said, “Such words sound like only ill manners. Know, young man, old as we are, our soul retains a fire that is active and quick in motion, which shall equal the most daring boy’s ambition of true manhood who wears a pride to defy us.”

Troylo-Savelli said to Octavio about Livio, “He’s my friend, sir.”

He did not want them to fight a duel.

“You’re weary of our service, and may leave it,” Octavio said to Livio. “We can court no man’s duty.”

Livio said, “Without passion, my lord, do you think that your nephew here, your Troylo, partakes in your spirit as freely as he partakes in your blood?”

Octavio had spirit: courage. Livio was asking if Troylo-Savelli had courage. Apparently, he was seeking to challenge Troylo-Savelli to fight.

Livio added, “It is not a rude question.”

He meant that he had grounds for asking that.

Thinking that Livio was implying that Troylo-Savelli was illegitimate, Octavio replied, “If you had known his mother, you might have sworn that she is honest. Let him prove that he is not base-born. For thy sister’s sake, I do conceive the like of thee; be wiser, but prate to me no more like this.”

Octavio was OK with Troylo-Savelli and Livio fighting a duel.

He then said to Troylo-Savelli, “If this gallant is resolved on my attendance, before he leaves me, acquaint him with the present service, nephew, I meant to employ him in.”

He exited.

Troylo-Savelli said, “Bah, Livio, why have you turned wild suddenly?”

Livio said, “Pretty gentleman, how modestly you plead your fears! How tamely!

“Ask Romanello; he has, without permission, surveyed your Bowers of Fancies, and he has discovered the mystery of those pure nuns, those chaste ones — untouched, indeed! The holy academy!

“He has found a mother’s daughter there of mine, too, and one who called my father ‘father’; he talks about it, ruffles in mirth about it; he disgraced to my face the glory of her greatness by it.”

Troylo-Savelli asked, “Truly?”

Livio said, “Death to my sufferance, can thou hear this misery, and answer it with a ‘truly’? It was thy wickedness, as false as thine own heart, which tempted my credulity and brought her to ruin.

“She was once an innocent, as free from sin as the blue face of Heaven without a cloud in it; she is now as sullied as is that canopy when mists and vapors separate it from our sight and threaten pestilence.”

This society believed that breathing in mists and vapors was unhealthy and caused disease.

Troylo-Savelli asked, “Does Romanello say so, Livio?”

Livio answered, “Yes, if your nobleness likes it, he truly does say so.

“Your breach of friendship with me must borrow courage from your uncle, while your sword talks an answer. There’s no remedy: I will have satisfaction, although thy life becomes short because of such a demand.”

He was challenging Troylo-Savelli to a duel.

Troylo-Savelli replied, “Then satisfaction, much worthier than your sword can force, you shall have, yet my sword shall keep the peace and remain undrawn. I can be angry, and speak boasts aloud in my reply; but honor schools me to fitter grounds. This, as a gentleman, I promise, before the minutes of the night warn us to rest, you will hear such satisfaction from me, and credit it as such you cannot wish better than. The satisfaction shall be so good that you cannot think of any better satisfaction.”

Livio said, “Cannot? The time is short. Before our sleeping hour, you vow?”

Troylo-Savelli replied, “I do. Before we ought to sleep.”

Livio said, “So I understand you to mean.

“Having confidence in what you say, I ask what the Marquis wanted me to do? I’ll do it.”

Troylo-Savelli said, “Invite Count Julio, his lady, and her brother, with their company, to my lord’s court at supper.”

Julio’s lady was his wife: Flavia. Her brother, of course, was Romanello.

Livio said, “That’s an easy business. And then —”

Troylo-Savelli interrupted, “And then, soon after, the performance of my just-now-made vow to you will occur, but be certain that you bring these guests with you.”

Livio said, “I am still your servant.”

Troylo-Savelli said, “You are more than that — you are my friend. You’ll find that you are no less to me.”

Livio said, “This is strange. Is it possible?”

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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JOHN FORD: 8 PLAYS

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