Collaborative play writing/The Countess of Challand/Act 1

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Act 1. Scene 1. Mansino's palace

Enter Mansino and Baizzo

Mansino. We are forever fortunate in it.

Baizzo. True, friend, and should, as some say, offer thanks To heaven for the prize of such a life.

Mansino. I never think of that.

Baizzo. Yet to be rich, is, as some say, to recline In paradise without the pangs of death.

Mansino. Let pincers tear me if I do not thank My father for his birth and industry, For thereby am I great.

Baizzo. Such thanks we owe to heaven's influence.

Mansino. In yielding me so dear a parent for My happiest nurture.

Baizzo. I would rather hear you acknowledge another kind of power.

Mansino. Which one?

Baizzo. You mock me. I mean the only one, whom face to brow we are sure to meet hereafter in the anger of fire.

Mansino. Let us rehearse my answer to that call.

Baizzo. To please you, and perhaps convert you, I will attempt that, though somewhat fearfully in the most secret places.

Mansino. Say that I die: who stands accusing me?

Baizzo. I do, a might who always was and is.

Mansino. Am I alive, though dead?

Baizzo. Alive, yet dead, because exiled from here.

Mansino. Supreme and potent entity, am I Never to be invited in your house?

Baizzo. Never, but sent off rotting evermore.

Mansino. Then I am tricked.

Baizzo. How, tricked?

Mansino. You never showed your face to me before.

Baizzo. You had my holy scriptures to read from.

Mansino. How could I tell all those were truthful, lord?

Baizzo. You should have guessed they were.

Mansino. Am I to be forever punished just Because my reasonings were incorrect?

Baizzo. You hazarded eternal joys of life For transitory ones, and therefore will Your soul be sent away where it deserves To lie, where no joy is, where none will be.

Mansino. Your strictures should have been more evident.

Baizzo. Do you discuss? Was it not all-sufficient That I once bled for you from brow and hands?

Mansino. I never asked for that.

Baizzo. I gave all, you sat by, and nothing gave. Go then a second time, but not to live, To die alive, in pains, eternally.

Mansino. Ho, ho! Do you believe I will, Baizzo?

Baizzo. Quite dead to all forms of religion!

Mansino. And wishing men and women of my mind, The better to become sufficient.

Baizzo. Ho, as you are?

Mansino. I'll so far sing my praises. Of what worth Is our religion? Man's life being brief And variable, how may one expect One text directing all? Not I, and so Pronounce me damned, a kind of charity You show, the well-spring of religion.

Baizzo. What is your faith, then?

Mansino. Myself, my sole self.

Baizzo. Then you are fortunate, for most seem lost, Despite wealth, loving wife and child without One answer to his origin and end.

Mansino. The fearful, ill, or foolish.

Baizzo. Our only quarrel.

Mansino. Forget that to end all. There is one friend I will more gladly recognize today.

Baizzo. A friend to be encountered in a bed.

Mansino. Ha! Ha! Not elsewhere.

Baizzo. Man natural in very wretchedness!

Mansino. All the more wretched in my pleasures, ha!

Baizzo. Each bite of pleasure like a viper's tooth When we expire!

Mansino. Puh! I scorn threats, defiances, all things Our wooden eunuch priests defend us from.

Baizzo. Here reason stands as mute as dead men's stones, A face of marble as your proof of life.

Exit Baizzo and enter Bianca

Mansino. A friend most tedious, if religious.- My love?

Bianca. Yours on the sabbath at the very least.

Mansino. A kind of maddening in my delights.

Bianca. Why? Would you have me each day of your life? That would in no way be existence on This earth, but like another paradise.

Mansino. Here is religion. (kissing her

Bianca. My lips?

Mansino. Far more of you if altogether mine.

Bianca. Our lusts, I hourly fear, will let us bite No morsel of salvation at the end.

Mansino. As we desire to think it does, we may.

Bianca. Never so clear or cleanly. Where love lies Reigns death and madness.

Mansino. To those unknown to love, I will aver. How pitiable are those who never do!

Bianca. The question lies unanswered whether lamps Of study without love should be the aim In all, or love's more painful ecstasies.

Mansino. I'll wish to study that another day.

Bianca. We are too damned for that already, sweet.

Mansino. How, damned at twenty?

Bianca. Never too young to die.

Mansino. Speak no philosophy, except love's own, By Ovid well explained.

Bianca. Those speaking of that, as our fathers say, Are irrevocably and irretrievably Damned on the post of shame they merit well.

Mansino. Where is this father? Spike him through the heart. Whoever speaks ill of our love deserves No pity from his surgeon. Older ones Know love by hearsay or by memories. Therefore, away from them! They cannot find As we can never heed but what we own Inside, and therefore listen to that voice, And let them babble of salvation.

Bianca. Religiously reflected on, my love!

Mansino. He knows religion who to his own self Is a religion.

Bianca. Your constancy's religion.

Mansino. The element in which I wade or swim.

Bianca. While others thirst while floating on love's sea.

Mansino. The truer water when unswallowed there.

Bianca. It is our measuring-stick: as it fares, So we decline or thrive. Say that a girl Swears she will possess her love and asks the youth, Perhaps too credulous, to bind himself In honorable terms entirely, Say that the youth believes his happiness: What follows? Death and torment, when the girl Retracts, for then the youth declines and pines. You know the end. And so this constancy's Our life. Will that same girl die happily? It may not be. She plays with other men, Who, after taking grossest pleasures, mock And scorn her. What can follow? Misery, Regret's companion, gabbles next to her, And so fares life beneath inconstant stars.

Mansino. Here quips love's scholar, but yet why so glib A coyness? When will I be fortunate?

Bianca. You have already taken what you like.

Mansino. Are we not rooted on the same pear-tree?

Bianca. True, though not yet in honorable terms.

Mansino. You are out of the world, for women now Insist no more on marriage than erewhile Your grandmothers removed their shirt without The binding contract signed by either part.

Bianca. I scorn that novelty.

Mansino. Why? When you play without considering Some tedious duty, foolish children's wiles-

Bianca. My aim and pleasure.

Mansino. When you might lie securely, know pride Of liberty as only bedfellow?

Bianca. I have learned to detest him.

Mansino. Will we be steadfast to each other, then, Add to each other's sense of pleasure still?

Bianca. As surely as we advance one foot Each minute to the grave.

Mansino. Then say we are unhappy in our mirth.

Bianca. Oh, no!

Mansino. Unless I play the sigher for a woman's foot.

Bianca. No need.

Mansino. Then I may hope?

Bianca. Much more than hope.

Exeunt Bianca and Mansino, kissing, enter Clara and Noce-Moscata

Noce-Moscata. Where is the master limping with the lady's help?

Clara. To bed.

Noce-Moscata. At noon, mother?

Clara. They are resting.

Noce-Moscata. Should he ask me, I would not follow him.

Clara. I hope you will not.

Noce-Moscata. No farther than brute-neighbors you know about, sent home abashed and shamed, like Pharaoh's pikers repulsed from my red sea.

Clara. Yet girls submit with joy to men at last.

Noce-Moscata. I never will, remaining as I am.

Clara. Not likely.

Noce-Moscata. Their shaggier faces next to mine? Oh, no!

Clara. Should our lord's friend return as often as others did, you'll see her swell, as I'll be sworn you will.

Noce-Moscata. What ghostly prognostication is this?

Clara. At fifteen I was big and full with you.

Noce-Moscata. At fifteen I stay as light as I can.

Clara. Your father vows otherwise. I think he already views a suitor for your lifetime enjoyment, no poorer a swain than Giacomo.

Noce-Moscata. Let father sleep with Giacomo: I'm for the fields, to kiss goat-beards, not men's.

Clara. I swore to see you thick before next Pentecost.

Noce-Moscata. I will, should Gabriel return to earth.

Clara. If not Giacomo then Giacobo.

Noce-Moscata. Neither Moco nor Boco: I'll shake and press bedsheets with my father first, or braid my neck before you knot my bridal braid.

Clara. Many say so.

Noce-Moscata. But I'll do so.

Clara. A promise like peas on tin vessels after shaking.

Noce-Moscata. Louder.

Clara. What will you do?

Noce-Moscata. Cut off any extended part I see.

Clara. You cannot.

Noce-Moscata. With this, my wee pen-knife, as ballads say, as a complement to theirs, I do.

Clara. Have you done so?

Noce-Moscata. By the Virgin, not to little Gilberto near the well? He got shorter, thanks to this.

Clara. The one who bled to death last year?

Noce-Moscata. The one who vanished in his blood, he, he!

Clara. You cannot mean- I cannot think-

Noce-Moscata. I mean and do, more sharply than the next.

Clara. The countess comes, before whom we must not be found tattling.

Noce-Moscata. Why is her face so red?

Clara. Out, lest I send you reeling backward to

Your sharpest needle!

Noce-Moscata. Much better mine than men's!

Exeunt Clara and Noce-Moscata, re-enter Baizzo and Bianca

Baizzo. No doubt the amorous one spoken of!

Bianca. A worthy fellow here, unless a face Belies itself.

Baizzo. A wench who eyes.

Bianca. Do I just so?

Baizzo. A countess, too, I hear.

Bianca. To you and yours, the countess of Challand.

Baizzo. Mansino's love, I think.

Bianca. As countess know me henceforth, with your hand Annexed to mine and elsewhere.

Baizzo. Quick, and yet quicker!

Bianca. I will not be my own detractor here.

Baizzo. Free?

Bianca. As free a woman as a man may be.

Baizzo. With blood as free, to settle on your face In most becoming blushes.

Bianca. Because I have been satisfied this day, But not so fully well as to refuse More water from the bucket.

Baizzo. I like this boldness.

Bianca. In women of pure honor, I admit It is quite well.

Baizzo. You have heard from my friend of Baizzo's name.

Bianca. My friend's friend.

Baizzo. Where lies Mansino?

Bianca. Gone to survey his fields.

Baizzo. While he does so, we may look over ours.

Bianca. To be acquainted.

Baizzo. Very much so, because you are beautiful.

Bianca. Much freer than fair.

Baizzo. Both agreable.

Bianca. I like your doctrine, Baizzo.

Baizzo. It is the justest opinion held by that most venerable of philosophers, whose name I have forgotten, that a man, suborning himelf to the dictates of love, may, in some form, feeling love of beauty grow within, though a shrub, long to climb at last on the celestial tree.

Bianca. I have often read Plato say so.

Baizzo. First as youths, wretches in turd sweating next to the tree, then, after climbing it, men hopping down or rising upwards towards pavements of sanctity. I am on the lowest branch of a tree whose trunk must be sawn off either by love or death.

Bianca. I may become your sawer, to drop here, Within these arms.

Baizzo. Then shall we go?

Bianca. To any place desired, my bed perhaps.-

But hold. My steward!

Enter Riccardatto

Riccardatto, I recognize in you a man of honor.

Riccardatto. If but to please you.

Bianca. Baizzo, behold a man as bound to me As my own childhood.

Riccardatto. I only wish it were much closer still.

Bianca. Do you desire to be more deeply mine?

Riccardatto. This from my mistress?

Bianca. To please me, look at Baizzo, please him first.

Riccardatto. I hope I will.

Bianca. Linked.

Baizzo. Just so.

Bianca. You know my freedom.

Riccardatto. Beyond man's expectation when he dreams.

Bianca. Then know yourselves much better.

Baizzo. A promise, on my part.

Riccardatto. Or mine.

Bianca. Both in the way to earn a woman's praise.

Riccardatto. I will prepare your coming.

Exit Riccardatto

Bianca. Be well assured: a villain you will like.

Baizzo. Already I am almost his.- This way?

Exeunt Bianca and Baizzo

Act 1. Scene 2. Agostino's house

Enter Clara and Noce-Moscata, holding a shirt

Clara. Have you mended your father's shirt yet?

Noce-Moscata. No.

Clara. Do not spoil his best, fresher even than the Sunday one.

Noce-Moscata. I hate the smell of it.

Clara. You need not smell the shirt to wash it clean.

Noce-Moscata. I hate the thing. Foh!

Clara. Did you scrub it first?

Noce-Moscata. I did, but yet the shirt is father still.

Clara. Is he out of bed yet?

Noce-Moscata. Let him snore or doze, because I fear that when he wakes he may find himself diseased.

Clara. How do you know that?

Noce-Moscata. Have you noticed how terribly he scratches himself each night?

Clara. No.

Noce-Moscata. We may discover more by morning light.

Clara. I'll churn that load of butter first.

Noce-Moscata. We'll see him hopping next. So. (hopping and scratching

Clara. Are you mad?

Noce-Moscata. No, no, but he will be, I promise that.

Clara. Will this skipping end?

Noce-Moscata. Whenever he will.

Clara. What a daughter is this!

Noce-Moscata. I assure you, a man likely skipping to his hurt.

(Cries within

Clara. What, Agostino? Is it he?

Noce-Moscata. I think so.

Clara. Not Agostino?

Noce-Moscata. Ha, has it started yet?

Clara. What, are you harmed?

Enter Agostino

Agostino. O! O! O! O!

Clara. What is the matter?

Agostino. I am terribly afflicted, wife, no one knowing the extent of it.

Clara. How? Where?

Agostino. O! O! O! O!

Clara. What ails you, Agostino?

Agostino. O! O! O! O! O! O! O! O! I can barely speak because of the itching.

Clara. Itching, did you say?

Agostino. (hopping and scratching I'm surely bewitched.

Clara. No!

Agostino. I swear I am.

Clara. What should we do? Call the physician?

Agostino. Do, while I weep and rave. O! O! O! O!

Clara. Go fetch the doctor, Noce-Moscata.

Noce-Moscata. What should I ask of him?

Clara. Request him urgently to come at once.

Exit Noce-Moscata

Agostino. O! O! Should I not die? Should I not drop And flail about, then with some potion die?

Clara. Do not, husband.

Agostino. For your sake I will not. O! O! O! I'll rake the skin off entirely with nails or teeth.

Clara. Where?

Agostino. Here.

Clara. There?

Agostino. And there. Lower. O, my buttock-hole's aflame, so are more secret under-parts.

Clara. A great to-do, maybe to my shame! I shrewdly suspect you have played me false, husband.

Agostino. No, no, no. A more foolish notion than ever heard of yet!

Clara. Are these no venereal signs?

Agostino. No, no, no. The doctor will swear to that and more.

Clara. Then how came this to be, so suddenly,

To our confusion?

Agostino. Expert opinions must here answer us.

Clara. To bed, then!

Agostino. Out of these breeches to find some relief.

Clara. Try that.

Agostino. Or slice each buttock off.

Clara. So desperate?

Agostino. If you do not, I swear I will attempt To do something to my parts you will wish Had been quite left alone.

Clara. More hastily to bed!

Exeunt Agostino and Clara

Act 1. Scene 3. Bianca's palace

Enter Bianca and Baizzo

Bianca. Your friend most pleasantly tricked, I can swear!

Baizzo. Mansino is your friend, too.

Bianca. Does he not serve me as I do with you?

Baizzo. With whom?

Bianca. Perhaps his steward's wife.- Not Clara yet?

Baizzo. Those near his comfort he will never play On, I suspect.

Bianca. Nor with the steward's daughter?

Baizzo. Never as yet. I often speak with her,

Who asked me yesterday for itching powder.

Bianca. Why?

Baizzo. A maiden's trick no doubt.

Bianca. Where will you go, after so lovingly

Beguiling your best friend?

Baizzo. To church.

Bianca. Your constant pleasure in hypocrisy?

Baizzo. To be forgiven.

Bianca. Here wanders Riccardatto. Make yourself

Known, see whether he will serve you.

Baizzo. He knows Mansino?

Bianca. But little. Keep Mansino absolute

In blank unknowingness.

Baizzo. The safest officer to guard us well.

Exit Bianca and enter Riccardatto

Riccardatto. Should I serve you more closely, my lord?

Baizzo. As your mistress directs, Riccardatto.

Riccardatto. I will, then.

Baizzo. You know Mansino?

Riccardatto. Just as another who comes in, goes out, By mere chance passing by.

Baizzo. Do not reveal one word on what you see Your mistress do with me.

Riccardatto. I vow I never will.

Baizzo. An oath to be rewarded with some gold, More richly when assured it is just so Than our Franciscan monks at prayer-time.

Exeunt Baizzo and Riccardatto