David Bruce: John Ford’s THE FANCIES, CHASTE AND NOBLE: A Retelling — Act 5, Scene 3, and Epilogue

— 5.3 —

Livio and Troylo-Savelli spoke together in a stateroom in the palace.

Livio said, “You see, sir, that I have proven to be a ready servant, and I have brought the expected guests amid these feastings, these costly entertainments. You must pardon my incivility that here sequesters your ears from your choice of music or discourse to a less pleasant parley. Night draws on, and quickly will grow old. It would be unmanly for any gentleman who loves his honor to put it on the rack and stretch out the time before redeeming it.

“Here so far is small comfort of such a satisfaction as was promised to me by you, although certainly it must be had.

“Please tell me, what can appear about me to make me be treated like this? My soul is free from injuries.”

Troylo-Savelli said, “My tongue is free from serious untruths; I never wronged you, I love and respect you too well to mean to wrong you now.”

Livio said, “You have not wronged me? Blessed Heaven! This is abuse of a patience beyond all endurance.”

Troylo-Savelli said, “If your own acknowledgment won’t acquit me fairly, then before the hours of rest shall shut our eyes up for sleep, say I made a forfeit of what no length of years can once redeem.”

Livio said, “These are fine whirls in tame imagination! Go on, sir! It is scarcely mannerly at such a season, such a ceremony, the place and presence considered, to mix combustions with delights.”

Troylo-Savelli said, “Prepare for free and honorable contentments, and give them welcome.”

Trumpets sounded the arrival of an important person, and Octavio entered the showroom, accompanied by Julio, Flavia, Romanello, and Julio’s attendants Camillo and Vespucci.

Octavio said to Julio, “I dare not study words, or observe formal courtesies, for this particular, this special favor.”

He was thanking Julio for being his guest, and he was saying that neither words nor formal courtesies were enough to thank him properly.

Julio said, “Your bounty and your love, my lord, must justly engage our thankfulness.”

Flavia said, “Indeed, the varieties of entertainment here have so exceeded all account of plenty, that you have left, great sir, no splendors except an equal welcome, which may purchase the reputation of a similar hospitality.”

She was saying that Julio and she needed to give Octavio the same welcome and hospitality that he had given to them.

Octavio said, “But for this grace, madam, I will lay open before your judgment, which I know can rate and value them, a cabinet of rich and lively jewels — the world can show none better — that I prize as dearly as I prize my life.”

He then called, “Nephew!”

Already knowing what he was to do, Troylo-Savelli said, “Sir, I obey you.”

He exited.

Flavia asked, “Jewels, my lord?”

Octavio replied, “No stranger’s eye has ever viewed them, unless your brother Romanello by chance was wooed to a sight for his approval — no more.”

Romanello said, “Not I, I do protest. I hope, sir, you cannot think I am a lapidary. I have skill in jewels!”

A lapidary is a jeweler, and/or a person who cuts and polishes gemstones, and/or a person who is a connoisseur of jewelry.

Octavio said, “It is a proper quality for any gentleman.”

Referring to Julio’s attendants Camillo and Vespucci, he added, “Your other friends, maybe, are not so coy and shy.”

“Who, they?” Julio said. “They can’t tell a topaz from an opal.”

Camillo admitted, “We are ignorant in gems that are not common.”

Vespucci added, “But his lordship is pleased, it seems, to test our ignorance to pass the time until the jewels are brought here.

“Please, look upon a letter recently sent to me.

“Lord Julio, madam, Romanello, read a novelty. It is written from Bologna.

“Fabricio, once a merchant in this city, has entered into religious orders, and has been received among the Capuchins as a fellow; this is news that ought not in any way to be unpleasant.

“This news is certainly true, I can assure you.”

Fabricio had reformed, as he had promised, and become a Capuchin monk. He had gone from being a spendthrift to taking a vow of voluntary poverty.

Julio said, “He at last has bestowed himself upon a glorious service.”

“Most happy man!” Romanello said.

He said to his sister, who had been married to Fabricio, “I now forgive him for the injuries thy former life exposed thee to.”

Livio, who was unhappy with his life, thought, Turn Capuchin! He! While I stand a cipher — a zero! — and fill up only an useless sum to be paid out in an unthrifty lewdness, that must buy both name and riot — both reputation and debauchery! Oh, my fickle destiny!

Using the metaphor of tasting food, Romanello said, “Sister, you cannot taste this course but excellently, and thankfully.”

Literally, the course was a course of action.

Flavia said, “He’s now dead to the world, and he now lives to Heaven; may a saint’s reward reward him!”

She thought, My only loved lord, all your fears are henceforth confined to a sweet and happy penance.

Troylo-Savelli returned, leading the “jewels,” who were Castamela and the three Fancies: Clarella, Floria, and Silvia. Morosa, their female guardian, accompanied them.

Octavio said, “Behold, I keep my word; these are the jewels that deserve a treasury. I can be prodigal among my friends. Examine well their luster. Doesn’t it sparkle? Why does your silence dwell in such amazement?”

Livio thought, Patience, keep within me. Don’t rudely leap yet into the scorn of anger.

Flavia said, “They are incomparable beauties!”

Octavio said, “Romanello, I have been only the steward of your pleasures. You loved this lady once; what do you say to her now?”

Castamela said to Romanello, “I must not court you, sir.”

Romanello replied, “By no means, fair one. Enjoy your life of greatness. Surely, the spring is past, the Bower of Fancies is quite withered, and it is offered like a lottery to be drawn. I dare not venture for a lottery ticket. Excuse me.”

He said sarcastically, “Exquisite jewels!”

Both Livio and Romanello believed that Castamela and the three Fancies were unchaste.

“Listen, Troylo,” Livio said.

“Spare me,” Troylo-Savelli replied.

Octavio said, “You, then, renounce all right in Castamela? Say the truth, Romanello.”

“Gladly,” Romanello replied.

“Then I must not,” Troylo-Savelli said.

He hugged Castamela and said, “Thus I embrace my own, my wife.”

He said to her, “Confirm it thus. When I fail, my dearest, to deserve thee, may comforts and life fail me!”

He wanted to marry her. By “When I fail …,” he meant, “If I should ever fail ….”

Castamela said, “I make the same vow, I do, for my part.”

Troylo-Savelli said, “To Livio, who is now my brother-in-law, I have justly given satisfaction.”

Castamela said to her brother, “Oh, excuse our secrecy; I have been —”

Livio finished the sentence for her: “— much more worthy of a better brother, and he — Troylo-Savelli — is a better friend than my dull brains could fashion.”

Romanello asked, “Have I been deceived?”

Octavio answered, “You have not, Romanello. We examined on what conditions your affections fixed, and found them merely courtship, but my nephew loved with a resolved faith, and used his prudent policy to draw the lady into this society, more freely to reveal his sincerity, even without Livio’s knowledge. And thus my nephew succeeded and prospered: he’s my heir, and she deserved him.”

Julio said to Romanello, “Don’t storm at what is past.”

Flavia said, “A fate as happy may crown you with a full measure of content.”

Octavio said, “Despite whatever gossip has stated abroad about me and these Fancies, know they are all my nieces. They are the daughters to my dead sole sister; this woman, Morosa, has been their female guardian since they first saw the world. Indeed, my mistresses they are, I have none other; how they have been brought up, their qualities may speak.”

In this society, a mistress could be a woman who is loved with no sexual desire.

Octavio continued, “Now, Romanello and gentlemen, for such I know you all, portions — dowries — both fit and worthy they shall not lack nor will I look on fortune.”

He meant that in their choice of husbands he would not consider their suitors’ wealth or lack of it.

He continued, “If you like, court them and win them; here is free access in my own court henceforth. Only for thee, Livio, I wish my niece Clarella were allotted to be thy wife.”

“Most noble lord, I am struck silent,” Livio said.

Flavia said, “Brother, here’s a noble choice of potential wives.”

Romanello said, “Frenzy, how did thou seize me!”

The ancient Romans sometimes blamed Furor, goddess of frenzy, when they committed something ill advised and rash.

Clarella said to him, “We knew who you were, sir, when you were disguised as Prugnuolo.”

“We were merry at the sight,” Floria said.

“And we gave you welcome,” Silvia said.

“Indeed, truly, and so we did, if you like,” Morosa said.

“Enough, enough,” Octavio said. “Now, to end the night, some domestic servants of my own are ready to present a merriment; they intend, according to the occasion of the meeting, in several types of characters, to show how love over-sways all men of several conditions: soldier, member of the gentry, fool, scholar, merchantman, and countryman. This is a harmless recreation.

“Take your places.”

Music sounded.

Spadone, Secco, Nitido, and three other dancers wearing masks, dressed respectively as a soldier, a member of the gentry, a fool, a scholar, a merchant, and a countryman, entered and danced.

After the dance was over, Octavio said to the maskers, “Your duties have been performed.

“Henceforth, Spadone, cast aside thy borrowed title of eunuch. The mother of my nephew Troylo breastfed thee: Esteem him honestly.

“Lights for the lodgings!”

He was calling for servants to escort them to their rooms with candles.

Octavio then said:

“It is high time for rest.

“Great men may be misunderstood when they mean best.”


Morosa said:

“Awhile suspected, gentlemen, I look

“For no new law, being quitted [acquitted] by the book [the play].”

Clarella said:

“Our harmless pleasures free in every sort

“Actions of scandal; may they free report!

[May they absolve the dishonorable reports of our actions!]”

Castamela said:

“Distrust is base, presumption urges wrongs;

“But noble thoughts must prompt as noble tongues.”

Flavia said:

“Fancy and judgment are a play’s full matter:

“If we have erred in one, right you the latter.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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