— 5.5 —
The disguised Francisco de Medici and the disguised Lodovico talked together.
Hortensio came into the room unnoticed, saw the two men talking, hid himself, and eavesdropped on their conversation. Hortensio had served Brachiano as a military officer, and now he served young Giovanni in the same capacity.
The disguised Lodovico said, “My lord, upon my soul you shall go no further and do no more. You have most ridiculously engaged yourself too far already.
“As for my part, I have paid all my debts. That way, if I should chance to fall, my creditors shall not fall with me. I vow to repay and punish all in this bold assembly to the meanest and lowest follower. My lord, leave the city, or I’ll forswear the murder.”
He meant that unless Francisco de Medici left the city of Padua immediately, he — Lodovico — would not commit the murder that he had sworn to commit.
“Farewell, Lodovico,” the disguised Francisco de Medici said. “If thou perish in this glorious act, I’ll rear to thy memory that fame which shall in the ashes keep alive thy name.”
If Lodovico were to die because of the murder, Francisco de Medici would make sure that he was remembered.
The disguised Lodovico and the disguised Francisco de Medici exited through separate doors.
“There’s some black deed on foot,” Hortensio said. “I’ll immediately go down to the citadel, and raise some forces.
“These strong court-factions that do brook no checks [tolerate no opposition]
“In the career [a short gallop] often break the riders’ necks.”
— 5.6 —
Vittoria, attended by Zanche, held a book in her hand. Flamineo walked into the room.
Flamineo said, “What! Are you at your prayers? Give them over. Stop praying.”
Vittoria said, “Why, ruffian?”
Flamineo replied, “I come to you about worldly business.”
Vittoria stood up, and Flamineo said, “Sit down. Sit down.”
Zanche started to leave, but Flamineo restrained her and said, “No, stay, blowze, you may hear it. The doors are secure enough.”
A blowse is a fat, red-faced woman. Zanche, of course, was dark-skinned.
Flamineo had locked the doors.
“Ha!” Vittoria said. “Are you drunk?”
Flamineo said, “Yes, yes, with bitter wormwood water; you shall taste some of it soon.”
Vittoria asked, “What intends the Fury?”
Furies are female avenging spirits, but Vittoria was calling Flamineo a Fury.
“You are my lord’s executrix,” Flamineo said, “and I claim reward for my long service.”
“For your service!” Vittoria said.
Was murdering their brother service?
Flamineo said, “Come, therefore. Here is pen and ink; set down what you will give me.”
Vittoria wrote and said, “There.”
“Ha!” Flamineo said. “Have you finished already? It is a very short conveyance.”
A conveyance is a document transferring property from one person to another.
Vittoria said, “I will read it out loud:
“I give that portion to thee, and no other,
“Which Cain groaned under, having slain his brother.”
After Cain killed Abel, his brother, God gave Cain this punishment in Genesis 4:11-12 (King James Version):
11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand;
12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
Flamineo said, “A most courtly patent to beg by.”
Beggars needed permits to beg, or they could be punished with a whipping.
“You are a villain!” Vittoria said.
Flamineo said, “Has it come to this? They say frights cure agues.”
An ague is an illness whose symptoms include fever. An ague is also a state of fear characterized by shaking and shivering.
He continued, “Thou have a devil in thee; I will see if I can scare him from thee.”
The two women attempted to leave, but Flamineo told them, “No, sit still.”
He then said, “My lord has left me yet two cases of jewels, which shall make me scorn your bounty. You shall see them.”
He exited, but he locked the door behind him.
Vittoria said, “Surely he’s distracted — he’s mentally disturbed.”
Zanche said, “Oh, he’s desperate!”
“Desperate” meant “without hope.” Desperate people committed violent acts, including suicide, which this society believed led to eternal damnation.
Zanche advised Vittoria, “For your own safety, use gentle language when you talk to him.”
Flamineo returned with two cases of pistols. Each case contained two pistols.
“Look,” he said. “These are better far at a dead lift, than all your jewel house.”
His sister’s jewel could house a penis, and over time, many penises.
Literally, a dead lift occurs when a horse exerts its greatest strength attempting to move a dead weight that it is unable to move. Metaphorically, a dead lift is a sudden emergency.
The word “dead” meant “heavy,” but Flamineo was also punning on its usual meaning. A lift can be an erection.
Vittoria said, “And yet, I think, these stones have no fair luster — they are ill set.”
The “stones” were the bullets in the pistols. In slang, “stones” can be testicles.
Flamineo said, “I’ll turn the right side towards you, so you shall see how they will sparkle.”
He pointed the two guns he was holding at her.
“Turn this horror away from me!” Vittoria said. “What do you want? What would you have me do? Is not all that is mine also yours? Have I any children?”
Young Giovanni was her late husband’s son.
Flamineo said, “I ask thee, good woman, to not trouble me with this vain worldly business; say your prayers. Neither yourself nor I should outlive him — your late husband — by the numbering of four hours.”
Vittoria said, “Did he enjoin it? Did he make this your obligation?”
Flamineo replied, “He did, and it was due to a deadly jealousy, lest any should enjoy thee after him, which urged him to make me vow to do it.
“As for my death, I did propound it voluntarily, knowing that if he could not be safe in his own court, being a great duke, what hope was there then for us?”
Vittoria said, “This is your melancholy, and your despair.”
Flamineo said, “Away with such a notion. Thou are a fool to think that politicians are accustomed to kill the effects or injuries and let the cause live. Shall we groan in irons, or be a shameful and a weighty burden to a public scaffold? This is my resolve: I would not live at any man’s entreaty, nor die at any man’s bidding.”
“Will you hear me?” Vittoria asked.
Flamineo said, “My life has done service to other men, but my death shall serve my own turn. Make yourself ready to die.”
Vittoria asked, “Do you intend to die indeed?”
Flamineo said, “With as much pleasure as ever my father begat me.”
In this society, one meaning of “to die” is “to have an orgasm.”
“Are the doors locked?” Vittoria whispered to Zanche.
“Yes, madam,” Zanche whispered back.
Vittoria asked Flamineo, “Have you grown to be an atheist? Will you turn your body, which is the splendid palace of the soul, into the soul’s slaughter-house?”
Some theologians have believed that the body is the prison of the soul.
She continued, “Oh, the cursed devil, which presents us with all other sins thrice sugared over, presents despair with bitter gall and stibium, yet we carouse — drink — it off.”
Stibium is poisonous antimony.
Many sins have an attractive veneer: We can think that committing some sins is “fun.” Suicide, however, is always presented as something disagreeable, yet many people willingly commit suicide.
Vittoria whispered to Zanche, “Cry out for help!”
She continued out loud, “Despair makes us forsake that which was made for man — the world — to sink to that which was made for devils — eternal darkness!”
Zanche shouted, “Help! Help!”
Flamineo said, “I’ll stop your throat with winter plums.”
Plums grow in the summer; winter plums are the dried fruit. In this society, the word “plums” could refer to raisins.
Figuratively, winter plums are bullets.
Vittoria said, “I ask thee to yet remember that millions are now in graves, which on the last day — the Day of Judgment — shall rise shrieking like mandrakes.”
Mandrakes were plants that were thought to shriek when pulled from the earth.
Flamineo said, “Stop your prattling, for these are but grammatical laments — they are feminine arguments.”
They were laments in words and sounds only; they were not backed up by reason and evidence.
He continued, “And they move me, as some in pulpits move their audiences, more with their exclamations than sense of reason, or sound doctrine.”
According to Flamineo, Vittoria’s prattling had no sense of reason or sound doctrine. That left exclamations, and Flamineo’s manner showed how little those moved him.
Zanche whispered to Vittoria, “Gentle madam, seem to consent, but just persuade him to teach us the way to death. Let him die first.”
Vittoria whispered back, “It is a good idea. I understand what you mean.”
She then said to Flamineo, “To kill oneself is food that we must take like pills, not chewed, but quickly swallowed. The smart of the wound, or the weakness of the hand, may else bring treble torments.”
Killing oneself ought to be done quickly to reduce the pain and suffering of dying. People want to die quickly, not endure a drawn-out, painful death.
Flamineo said, “I have held it to be a wretched and most miserable life that is not able to die.”
In other words: A person who is not strong enough to commit suicide leads a wretched and most miserable life.
“Oh, but frailty!” Vittoria said. “Yet I am now resolved; farewell, affliction!”
She then made an apostrophe to her late husband; that is, she addressed her late husband: “Behold, Brachiano, I, who while you lived made a flaming altar of my heart to sacrifice to you, now am ready to sacrifice heart and all.”
She then said, “Farewell, Zanche!”
Zanche said, “What, madam! Do you think that I’ll outlive you, especially when my best self, Flamineo, goes on the same voyage?”
At one time, she had loved Flamineo.
“Oh, most loved Moor!” Flamineo said.
Zanche said, “Only, by all my love, let me entreat you, since it is most necessary that one of us do violence on ourselves, let you or me be Vittoria’s sad taster and teach her how to die.”
Kings would not eat until a taster had tasted their food to make sure that it was not poisoned.
Flamineo said, “Thou instruct me nobly; take these pistols because my hand is stained with blood already.”
He was saying that he did not want to commit another murder.
He continued, “Two of these you shall level at my breast, the other against your own, and so we’ll die most equally contented.”
Apparently, he meant that the two women would have two pistols each, one of each pair they would use to shoot him and the other of each pair they would use to shoot each other.
Each of them would avoid committing suicide.
Flamineo added, “But first swear not to outlive me.”
Vittoria and Zanche said, “We swear most religiously not to outlive you.”
Flamineo said, “Then here’s an end of me; farewell, daylight. And, oh, contemptible medicine that takes so long a study, only to preserve so short a life, I take my leave of thee.”
He showed them the pistols and said, “These are two cupping-glasses that shall draw all my infected blood out.”
In this society, doctors sometimes treated patients by bleeding them. They would heat the inside of a cupping glass, make an incision in the patient’s body, and then put the cupping-glass over the incision. As the inside of the cupping-glass cooled, a partial vacuum formed, drawing out the blood.
Flamineo asked the two women, “Are you ready?”
Both replied, “We are ready.”
“Whither shall I go now?” Flamineo said. “Oh, Lucian, shall I go to thy ridiculous Purgatory! Shall I find Alexander the Great cobbling shoes, Pompey tagging points, and Julius Caesar making hair-buttons, Hannibal selling blacking, and Caesar Augustus crying ‘Garlic!’ in the marketplace, Charlemagne selling lists by the dozen, and King Pepin crying ‘apples’ in a cart drawn with one horse!”
Lucian was an ancient satirist.
Points were like shoelaces. Pompey’s job in Purgatory was to affix metal tags to the ends of the laces, which were used to lace up clothing.
Hair-buttons were made with hair. This was the job of Julius Caesar, who was bald, in Purgatory.
Hannibal was swarthy because he was from Carthage, which was settled by Phoenicians. Blacking is black shoe polish.
“Lists” are strips of cloth.
A pippin is a variety of apple.
Flamineo then said, “Whether I decompose to fire, earth, water, air, or all the elements by tiny degrees, I don’t know, nor greatly care.”
He gave them the pistols and said, “Shoot! Shoot! Of all deaths, the violent death is best; for from ourselves it steals ourselves so fast that the pain, before it can be apprehended, is quite past.”
In violent deaths, people often die quickly. Natural deaths often take a long, painful time.
Vittoria and Zanche shot at him, ran to him, and treaded on him.
Vittoria said viciously, “What! Have you dropped?”
Flamineo said, “I am mixed with earth already. As you are noble, perform your vows, and bravely follow me.”
They had vowed to die, too.
“Follow you where?” Vittoria asked. “To hell?”
“To most assured damnation?” Zanche asked.
“Oh, thou most cursed devil!” Vittoria said.
Zanche began, “Thou are caught —”
Vittoria finished, “— in thine own engine. I tread out the fire that would have been my destruction.”
“Will you be perjured?” Flamineo said. “What a religious oath was Styx, which the gods never dared to swear by and violate!”
Swearing by the River Styx was an inviolable oath: The gods hadto do what they had sworn to do.
Flamineo continued, “Oh, that we had such an oath to minister, and to be so well kept in our courts of justice!”
Vittoria said, “Think whither thou are going.”
Zanche said, “And remember what villainies thou have acted.”
Vittoria said, “This thy death shall make me similar to a blazing ominous star — look up and tremble.”
Flamineo said, “Oh, I am caught with a spring — a snare!”
Vittoria said, “You see the fox comes many times short home; it is here proved true.”
A fox whose tail is caught in a trap can lose its tail, according to one of Aesop’s fables.
Flamineo said, “Killed by a couple of hounds!”
Female hounds are bitches.
Vittoria said, “There is no fitter offing for the infernal Furies than one in whom they reigned while he was living.”
Flamineo said, “Oh, the way’s dark and horrid! I cannot see. Shall I have no company?”
“Oh, yes,” Vittoria said, “thy sins run before thee to fetch fire from hell, to light for thee the way thither.”
Flamineo said, “Oh, I smell soot, most stinking soot! The chimney’s on fire; my liver’s parboiled, like Scotch holy-bread.”
Usually, holy-bread is bread used in the Eucharist, but Scotch holy-bread is a boiled sheep’s liver.
Flamineo continued, “There’s a plumber laying pipes in my guts — it scalds. Will thou outlive me?”
Zanche said, “Yes, and I will drive a stake through thy body; for we’ll say that thou did this violence upon thyself.”
When someone committed suicide, a stake was driven through their heart and they were buried at a crossroad.
Flamineo said, “Oh, cunning devils! Now I have tested your love, and doubled all your reaches: I am not wounded.”
“Doubled all your reaches” meant “outstripped all your plots.”
When pursued by a predator, rabbits double: They make evasive turns that make them hard to catch.
Flamineo, who was unhurt, stood up and said, “The pistols held no bullets; it was a plot to test your natural affection for me; and I live to punish your ingratitude.
“I knew that at one time or another you would find a way to give me a strong potion of poison.
“Oh, men who lie upon your deathbeds and are haunted with howling wives! Never trust them; they’ll re-marry before the worm pierces your shroud, before the spider makes a thin curtain for your epitaphs.
“How cunning you were to discharge your pistols! Do you practice at the Artillery Yard?
“Trust a woman? Never, never: Brachiano is my precedent.”
Brachiano was responsible for the murder of a woman: Isabella, his wife.
Flamineo continued, “We lay our souls to pawn to the devil for a little pleasure, and a woman makes the bill of sale.
“That a man should ever marry! For one Hypermnestra who saved her lord and husband, forty-nine of her sisters cut their husbands’ throats all in one night.”
In mythology, a man named Danaus was suspicious of Aegyptus and his fifty sons, who wanted to marry Danaus’ fifty daughters, so he fled with his daughters, but Aegyptus and his fifty sons pursued them. To avoid a battle, Danaus told his fifty daughters to marry the fifty sons of Aegyptus, but although he allowed the marriages, he also ordered his fifty daughters to kill the fifty sons of Aegyptus. All of his daughters except Hypermnestra, who had married Lynceus, obeyed. Hypermnestra spared Lynceus because he treated her with respect and did not force her to have sex with him their first night together.
Flamineo continued, “There was a shoal of ‘virtuous’ horse leeches — blood-suckers!”
He drew his sword and his dagger and said, “Here are two other instruments.”
Lodovico and Gasparo, still disguised as Capuchin monks, entered the room. Pedro and Carlo followed them.
“Help! Help!” Vittoria shouted.
“What noise is that?” Flamineo said.
Lodovico and Gasparodisarmed him.
“Ha!” Flamineo said. “False keys in the court!”
He had locked the door, but these men had been able to gain entry.
“We have brought you a masque,” Lodovico said.
Many plays of the period had masques in which disguised revelers entered a party and invited those already there to dance.
Flamineo replied, “A matachin, it seems by your drawn swords.”
A matachin is a sword-dance.
He added, “Churchmen turned revelers!”
Gasparo cried, “Isabella! Isabella!”
She was why they were there; they wanted to revenge her death.
Lodovico and Gasparo took off their disguises.
Lodovico asked, “Do you know us now?”
Flamineo said, “Lodovico! And Gasparo!”
“Yes,” Lodovico said, “and that Moor the late Duke of Brachiano gave pension to was the great Duke of Florence.”
“Oh, we are lost!” Vittoria said.
Flamineo said, “You shall not take justice forth from my hands. Oh, let me kill her!”
He wanted to be the one to kill his sister.
He said, “I’ll cut my safety through your coats of steel.”
He tried, but failed.
Flamineo then said, “Fate’s a spaniel: We cannot beat it from us.”
Cocker spaniels were reputed to stay faithful to their masters, even if their masters beat them.
Flamineo then asked, “What remains to be done now? Let all who do ill, take this precedent. Man may his fate foresee, but not prevent.
“And of all axioms this shall win the prize:
“It is better to be fortunate than wise.”
Gasparo said, “Bind him to the pillar.”
“Oh, your gentle pity!” Vittoria said. “I have seen a blackbird that would sooner fly to a man’s bosom than to await the grip of the fierce sparrow-hawk.”
Vittoria was like the blackbird: She would prefer to be in the clutches of Lodovico, Gasparo, Pedro, and Carlo than in the clutches of her brother.
“Your hope deceives you,” Gasparo said.
Vittoria said, “If the Duke of Florence should be here in the court, I wish that he would kill me!”
“Fool!” Gasparo said. “Princes give rewards with their own hands, but death or punishment by the hands of other people.”
Princes hire assassins rather than do the dirty work themselves.
Lodovico said to Flamineo, “Sirrah, you once did strike me; I’ll strike you to the center.”
By center, he meant both Flamineo’s heart and the center of the earth.
In Dante’s Inferno, hell is underground, and Lucifer is punished at the exact center of the earth.
Flamineo said, “Thou shall do it like a hangman, a base hangman, not like a noble fellow, for thou see I cannot strike again.”
He was restrained and could not defend himself.
Lodovico asked, “Do thou laugh?”
Flamineo replied, “Would thou have me die, as I was born, in whining?”
“Recommend yourself to heaven,” Gasparo said.
“No,” Flamineo said. “I will carry my own commendations thither.”
Lodovico said, “Oh, I could kill you forty times a day for four years, and it would still be too little!”
Killing Flamineo 58,440 times would be too few for Lodovico.
Lodovico continued, “Nothing grieves me except that you are too few to feed the famine of our vengeance.”
He then asked Flamineo, “What do thou think about?”
Flamineo replied, “Nothing; of nothing: I think nothing of nothing.
“Put aside thy idle questions. I am in the way to study a long silence: To prate would be idle. I remember nothing. There’s nothing of so infinite vexation as a man’s own thoughts.”
Lodovico said to Vittoria, “Oh, thou glorious strumpet! If I could divide thy breath from this pure air when thy soul leaves thy body, I would suck it up, and exhale it upon some dunghill.”
Vittoria said, “You! My death’s-man! I think thou do not look horrid enough. Thou have too good a face to be a hangman. If thou are an executioner, do thy office in the right form: Fall down upon thy knees, and ask forgiveness.”
It was customary for executioners to ask the people whom they were going to execute to forgive them.
Lodovico replied, “Oh, thou have been a most prodigious comet!”
Comets were ill omens.
He said, “But I’ll cut off your train.”
He ordered, “Kill the Moor first.”
The tails of comets were called trains. Members of the upper class had trains of attendants. Zanche was one of Vittoria’s attendants.
Vittoria said, “You shall not kill her first; behold my breast. I will be waited on in death; my servant shall never go before me.”
“Are you so brave?” Gasparo asked.
Vittoria replied, “Yes, I shall welcome death, as princes do some great ambassadors. I’ll meet thy weapon halfway.”
She would run upon his sword.
“Thou do tremble,” Lodovico said “I think that fear should dissolve thee into air.”
Vittoria replied, “Oh, thou are deceived! I am too true a woman! Conceit — mere imagination — can never kill me.
“I’ll tell thee what — I will not in my death shed one base tear. If I should look pale, it will be for lack of blood; it will not be because of fear.”
Carlo said to Zanche, “Thou are my task, black fury.”
He would be the one to kill her.
Zanche said defiantly, “I have blood as red as either of theirs. Will thou drink some? It is good for the falling-sickness.”
The falling-sickness is epilepsy, but she would fall after being run through with Carlo’s sword.
She continued, “I am proud that death cannot alter my complexion, for I shall never look pale.”
Her black skin would not be pale as she faced death.
Lodovico said, “Strike, strike, with a joint motion.”
They stabbed Flamineo, Vittoria, and Zanche.
Zanche died immediately.
Vittoria said defiantly, “It was a ‘manly’ blow. The next blow thou give, murder some sucking infant, and then thou will be famous.”
Flamineo knew that he was dying, but he remained defiant.
He said carelessly, “Oh, what blade is it thou used to stab me? A Toledo, or an English fox? I always thought a cutler should distinguish the cause of my death, rather than a doctor.”
Toledo and English fox were different kinds of swords.
Many good swords were made in Toledo, Spain.
A cutler dealt in swords and knives.
Flamineo said, “Search my wound deeper; tent it with the steel that made it.”
To search a wound means to probe it. A tent is a piece of absorbent material used to search and clean a wound.
Vittoria said, “Oh, my greatest sin lay in my blood! Now my blood pays for it.”
The first use of “blood” meant passion. She could have been referring to sexual passion, or she could have been referring to a capacity for feeling strong emotion, including anger.
Flamineo said to her, “Thou are a noble sister! I love thee now. If a woman breeds a man, she ought to teach him manhood. Fare thee well.”
He believed that she was dying bravely.
He continued, “Know that many glorious women who are famed for the masculine virtue of courage have been vicious, only a happier silence did befall them: Their viciousness was kept secret. A woman has no faults, if she has the skill to hide them.”
Vittoria said, “My soul, like a ship in a black storm, is driven I don’t know whither.”
People, when they die, do not know their destination.
Flamineo said, “Then cast anchor. Prosperity bewitches men, because it appears clear. But seas do laugh, show white, when rocks are near.
“We cease to grieve, we cease to be fortune’s slaves, and indeed we cease to die by dying.”
He said to Zanche, “Are thou gone?”
She had died.
He then said to Vittoria, “And thou so near the bottom — so near death?
“It is a false report that says that women vie with the nine Muses for nine tough durable lives!”
It is a false report. Cats, not women, are said to have nine lives. The Muses are immortal.
A proverb stated, “A cat has nine lives, and a woman has nine cats’ lives.”
Flamineo continued, “I do not look at who went before, nor who shall follow me. No, at myself I will begin the end. While we look up to heaven, we confound knowledge with Knowledge.”
Earthly knowledge is “knowledge”; heavenly wisdom is “Knowledge.”
He said, “Oh, I am in a mist!”
This was a sign of swiftly approaching death.
Vittoria said, “Oh, happy are they who never saw the court, and never knew great men except by report!”
Flamineo said, “I recover like a spent candle, for a flash, and then instantly go out.
“Let all who belong to great men remember the old wives’ tradition, to be like the lions in the Tower of London on Candlemas-day — February 2 — to mourn if the sun shine, for fear of the pitiful remainder of winter to come.”
If the sun shone on that day, supposedly weeks of winter weather would follow.
Metaphorically, enjoying happiness out of season leads to much unhappiness later.
Flamineo continued, “It is well yet there’s some goodness in my death. My life was a black charnel house where bones are stored.”
He was dying bravely.
His voice giving out, he added, “I have caught an everlasting cold; I have lost my voice most irrecoverably.
“Farewell, glorious — boastful — villains.
“This busy activity of life appears most vain — empty and boastful — since rest breeds rest, where all seek pain by pain.”
In a society where everyone works hard to protect themselves and their property and acquire more only to suffer pain and the need to work ever harder to be safe, rest leads to everlasting rest. Let down your guard, and you die.
Flamineo said his last words:
“Let no harsh flattering bells resound my knell;
“Strike, thunder, and strike loud, to my farewell!”
He died as young Giovanni, the six ambassadors, and some attendants arrived outside the room.
The English Ambassador shouted, “This way! This way! Break open the doors! This way!”
Lodovico said, “Ha! Are we betrayed? Why, then let’s resolutely all die together, and having finished this most noble deed, defy the worst of fate, nor fear to bleed.”
Young Giovanni, the six ambassadors, and some attendants broke open the door and entered the room.
The English Ambassador said, “Keep back the prince! Protect Giovanni! Shoot! Shoot!”
They shot Lodovico.
“Oh, I am wounded!” Lodovico said. “I fear I shall be captured.”
“You bloody villains,” young Giovanni said, “by what authority have you committed this massacre?”
“By thine,” Lodovico said.
“Mine!” young Giovanni said.
Lodovico said, “Yes. The Duke of Florence, thy uncle, who is a part of thee, enjoined us to do it. Thou know who I am, I am sure. I am Count Lodovico, and thy most noble uncle — in disguise — was last night in thy court.”
“Ha!” young Giovanni said.
Lodovico said, “Yes, he was that Moor thy father chose to be his pensioner. Your father gave him a pension.”
Young Giovanni said, “He turned murderer!”
He then ordered, “Take them away to prison, and to torture. All who have hands in this shall taste our justice, as I have hope to go to heaven.”
Lodovico said, “I glory yet that I can call this act my own. For my part, the rack, the gallows, and the torturing wheel shall be but sound sleeps to me.
“Here’s my rest. I painted this night-piece, and it was my best.”
The night-piece — a painting depicting a scene at night — was the massacre.
Giovanni ordered, “Remove these bodies.”
He then said, “See, my honored lords, what use you ought to make of their punishment.
“Let guilty men remember, their black deeds
“Do lean on crutches made of slender reeds.”
Instead of an epilogue, only this of Martial supplies me:
Haec fuerint nobis præmia, si placui.
Translated from Martial Epigrammata, II, xci, 8, the Latin means this:
“These things shall be my reward, if I have pleased you.”
In other words: Your applause and approval shall be my rewards.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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