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LUDWIG THE BIGAMIST
A NEW, CHARMING COMEDY BY FRIEDRICH HERMANN FLAYDER
PERFORMED AT THE COLLEGIUM ILLUSTRE OF TÜBINGEN, 24 AUGUST 1625
AN EPIGRAM “TO THE TURKS” BY STEPHAN LANSIUS
O Turks, you cannot now say that you have lost a fellow countryman,
Even though the Count of Gleichen has taken Sultana away;
For to replace Sultana, the author of our play, Flayder,
Has begun to dwell in the heart of the East.
FRIEDRICH HERMANN FLAYDER PRAYS FOR ALL HAPPINESS FOR HIS PATRON, THE ACTIVE AND NOBLE SIR ERHARD VON MÜNSTER IN BREITENLOHE, RAMMINGEN &c. .
semester has now passed since I published with some success my play Imma Portatrix, performed at the Collegium Illustre and dedicated to that high-born and magnificent man, Sir Johannes Joachim von Grünthal. Now I call on you, most noble Erhard, great offspring of a great father, a far from unworthy member of this Collegium Illustre, a man who undoubtedly will confer distinction on your family by the magnificent gifts of your exalted character. To you I humbly present this Ludwig the Bigamist. I am prompted to do this by the remarkable kindness with which you surrounded me, as soon as you came to this city. This kindness is such that if I were not grateful to you in return, I should correctly be viewed as forgetful of the services which you bestowed on me. Although the modest gift which I here offer to Your Excellency is not such that it can repay that preference which you show me daily, still I am confident that you will gladly take it to your heart with great delight, since I know that you were a lively and attentive spectator of this comedy.
Whatever the quality of this gift may be, I can readily assert that it is easier to write ten orations in the modern style than to write one comedy in the style of Plautus and Terence which will deserve any applause. Let others rattle on about whatever they wish; let them infinitely magnify their efforts, whatever they may be; let them scoff at this or that production; let them be totally concentrated on their work trying to fashion something worthy of their majestic obscurity, but without success. As far as I am concerned, they can suffer a daily miscarriage. As for me, I will never abandon that praiseworthy calling which the grace of God and the support of the nobility have granted me. As long as I continue to encourage the efforts of my literary young men, I will be able to play some role in this theater of life. Although no Roscius, still — unless I am mistaken — I have some talents as an actor. I have been able to demonstrate the great usefulness of these comedies, whose value the Jesuits, men eager and skilled in the education of youth, also have recognized. Elsewhere, I hope, I will have something attractive to say about the composition and presentation of these comedies, but now I will bring this to a conclusion.
May Almighty God ever preserve in health and safety both you and your learned tutor, my dear friend Stephen Lansius.
Characters in the Drama: the role acted by each of the high-born, noble students who are adorned with every virtue, arranged in the order in which each appeared on stage.
LOVE, acting the part of a Prologue. Wolfgang Theodore von Rathsamhausen in Stein, Alsatian Knight, who leads in
Hymen, played by Johannes Friedrich Flayder.
BOY Johannes Kircher.
BUONCOMPAGNO. Johannes Wilhelm von Menlishoven.
ROSINA, the Countess' maid. Johannes Georg Buchelin.
THE COUNTESS OF GLEICHEN, Philip Conrad von Liebenstein.
HERMANN, a servant. Johannes Pfanner.
LUDWIG, COUNT OF GLEICHEN, .Johannes Wilhelm von Rathsamhausen in Stein, Alsatian Knight, older brother
of the Prologue actor.
SULTANA, a Saracen maiden. Wolfgang Erasmus von Grünthal &c.
CARLOMAN, a Saracen servant. Joseph Hettler.
FALERNA, a Saracen maidservant. Philip Ludwig Daser.
SIGISMUND, son of the Count. Sigismund Land Baron von Herberstein &c.
LITTLE LUDWIG , the other son of the Count. Friedrich Jacob von Grünthal.
The Count's CHAPLAIN. Wolfgang von Weyler.
THE PAPAL NUNCIO The same student who acted the Prologue, who was accompanied by three high-born and noble young men, who in individual speeches congratulate the Count for the Indulgence received from the Pope:
Karl Wilhelm Jörger, Land. Baron in Creisbach &c.
Wolfgang Georg von Güleis, Baron in Sonnberg, Obernhollabrunn, and Raschala &c.
Karl Helmhard Jörger, &c.. the younger brother.
Acted by LOVE
I send greetings to all you excellent spectators, you who most highly esteem the Goddess Fidelity — and Fidelity esteems you as well. If I speak the truth here, give me a clear signal, so that I can know right from the beginning that you support me. Now we have learned from popular talk that you all are eagerly awaiting a play from Flayder, so we here present his delightful comedy, which you older people in the audience saw when Frischlin presented the same play in the German style. (I am aware that you younger people are not acquainted with it, but we will make every effort to make sure you get to know it.) I want to strongly encourage all of you to give your kind support to our players. Cast out of your minds all concern about debts that are due; let no one here now fear his creditor. Today is a holiday, and we give a holiday to all moneylenders. All is calm; around the Forum these are Halcyon days. Therefore it is only right that you carefully listen to this comedy which we now present. You will do well to observe my commands. Let no busybody be seated in our orchestra here; let no chatterbox keep interrupting. Let no showoff walk in front of the audience. It's right that those who have been sleeping a long while at home should stand here without complaint and master their drowsiness. Let no ignoramuses be seated here, so that there may be places for the educated. Let nurses keep their tiny infants at home; do not bring them to watch the play, lest the nurses grow thirsty and the babies die of hunger or wander around here like starveling kids. Let the married women watch in silence and laugh in silence; let them refrain from shrieking in a shrill voice. Let them take their chatter and comments home with them, lest they be an annoyance to their husbands both here and at home.
But now if your ears are free, pay attention. I want to give you the name of this comedy — but first (if you give me your attention) I'll say who I am and who this one is whom I'm leading by the hand. The poet gave me the name Love, and also added my son here, so that, like Hymen and his shining torch, he might go before you and me, his mother. Today with his help I will perform amazing deeds here on this stage, if this is satisfactory to you; for today I will measure out for you all the Graces, Loves, and all who associate with them, as well as thousands of marriages, not by the peck or by the bushel, but by the whole granary — such a heap of Love will I give you, as indeed I am a goddess most generous to all. Now this was the prologue to our plot.
But let us continue and explain why we are here. If it is not a bother, I want to give you the name of the comedy — or even if it is, I'll tell you anyway, since it is permitted by you who have the management of it. This comedy is called LUDWIG THE BIGAMIST in Latin, a Count who celebrated two simultaneous marriages. You have the name, now hear the rest of the story, for you will judge the plot right here, since the home of any plot is its own stage. In this play the stage here is Thuringia, while we act this comedy. For many years a Countess has lived here. Hardly any woman like her has ever existed, whether you choose to consider her chastity or her excellent character. It has been many years since the Count named Ludwig, honorable, upright, and devoted, as befits a German, took her as wife, a wife of noble descent. Some time later Ludwig set out abroad with the Emperor Frederick for the war against the Saracens, but was unhappily captured in Palestine by the ferocious troops of the enemy. Wretchedly kept in the chains of harsh slavery, he suffered under a thousand harsh tasks. However the barbarian lord whom he served had in his house a most beautiful daughter, and she often visited the Count as he labored, spoke to him, and asked him who his father was, in what country he was born and of what lineage. When she heard that he came from such noble ancestry and from such a magnificent country — and his own character did not belie this — love blazed up so high in her heart that she desperately fell in love with the Count who was so burdened with fetters. She could not live without his presence day and night, to such an extent that she lightened the unhappy man's harsh slavery with her conversation, coaxing, consolation, and loving words. With these she brought the Count to such a state that he promised to marry her, and in fact he brought her from Saracen territory over the seas to his old homeland in Germany. But there he found his former wife still living, and with two sons. So now in two different regions this Count has two wives at the same time, one in Palestine, one in Thuringia. For this reason he is “the Bigamist,” as I just said.
Today he will arrive home with his second wife, the Saracen woman, whom I will have you see very soon. But for now I will not tell you how the Count will be received by the Countess, his other wife, or what will happen in Thuringia after he brings the Saracen woman there, or what the outcome will be. The comedy itself will show all this to you while you watch. We will act out this plot, a play for your entertainment. But there is one point about which I want to advise you: it will be well worth your while to pay attention to this play. It is not composed in an overly elaborate style as many others are. There are no vulgar versus not worth remembering. There is no mendacious pimp here nor a wicked whore, nothing of that kind except for a braggart soldier. Don't be alarmed because I just mentioned a war with the Saracens, for any battle will happen out there, outside the theater. It would be quite wrong for us, a comic theater troupe, to suddenly attempt to perform a tragedy. However, if someone is looking for a fight, let him begin the quarrel. If he finds a more valiant opponent, I'll make sure that he is a spectator of a fight that is so unpleasant that he will hate being a spectator forever after.
But, as I just said to you, spectators, for me the time to start acting is now, and for you the opportunity of gracing this theatrical spectacle. Do not permit this dramatic art to fall into the hands of the few. Make sure that your influence supports and assists my small talents. I have never covetously set a price on my work, but I have considered it the greatest possible gain if I could especially serve your interests, as well as exercise my young men in the Latin language and at the same time in good morality, both to encourage virtue and to expel vices. Allow me to gain this request from you: that you not allow the man who entrusted his labors to my protection and himself to your fidelity be maliciously mocked by the malicious men who surround him. For my sake take up his cause and be silent, so that he may be pleased to write other plays and that we may be able to study these plays.
This is what the poet has ordered me to say. I now depart; I'll dress for my part — acknowledge me then with kindly feelings. Farewell; you stay here, I'm going. I want to become a different woman now, or rather a different man, as the poet decides. Farewell and give us your aid, so that Salvation may preserve you, as well as Religion, Faith, and (the part I played) Love.
ACT I, SCENE i
It’s quite clear that neither gods nor men show any favor to a man who has a master like this one I have now. There is no one in the world who is a bigger liar or a worse man than my master, or one so smeared all over with mud and filth. May the gods so bless me, I'd prefer to live my life in the stone quarries or in a mill, my legs weighted down with heavy chains, than to live in slavery with Buoncompagno. What a specimen he is! What corrupters of men his type are! By all the gods, the day is now half-dead down to its navel, but my master is still snoring loudly. He's wrapped a blanket five times around his head, farts ten times, and makes a tremendous racket with that long, red nose that he has. O God Almighty, free me at last from this master, a man so stupid, useless, babbling, bragging, shameless, and generally full of shit. He is also a bigger liar and a lecher than anyone. This pest says he is chased by all the women, even though he is a laughing-stock to everyone wherever he goes. All the girls consider him an ass, a toadstool, a blockhead, and they bend their swan-like necks after him or they humorously make long donkey ears with their hands and shake them at him, or they stick out their panting tongues after him like rabid dogs. He thinks he's a most active soldier, even thought he's an idiot, stupid and slow, and he snores day and night. But this one thing really torments me, that I've acquired a master who's more poverty-stricken than anyone. In his service I can never find anything to eat or drink, he has such a shortage of money. I discovered this today with my own hands. When dawn was just rising, my soldier rushed out of his bed, perhaps to take a crap, and I made straight for his boots to look in his pack to see what money he had locked in his wallet. But there, by God Almighty, I found nothing but unmixed poverty, spiderwebs and dust, even though he blathers and blusters all day and everywhere about his oceans and mountains of gold.
But I'll be quiet now, for (unless I'm mistaken) my master is dragging himself out of his blankets and getting up, now that noon has passed.
ACT I, SCENE ii
BUON. Now that I have buried all sleep and slept off this hangover, I'll put on my finest outfit that will please the women. But I don't know where my servant is!
BOY I'm here, Master.
BUON. Why are you just standing there? Why aren't you quickly handing me my comb so that I can fix my hair?
BOY Look, here is the comb, my Lord.
BUON. My God smite you, you triple bastard, who dare to approach me with such a nasty comb! It has only two teeth!
BOY . But I got the best one
BUON. Bring a mirror, you rascal.
BOY But it's broken.
BUON. Bring it anyway, unless you want me to break your leg as well. Now hand me my leg armor from inside there. Although I keep no horse right at the moment, I'll still take on the appearance of a knight, to reinforce my knightly descent. Here, put it first on the right leg, then the left. But what is this, you scoundrel? Why did you bring me one spur?
Boy. But, my Lord, don't you remember that you lost one spur yesterday?
BUON. You piece of filth, don't you remember that I told you to purchase another pair of spurs from the merchant on my account?
BOY I did that.
BUON. So where are they?
BOY The merchant would not give them to me.
BUON. Why not?
BOY He said that you had not paid him for the previous spurs.
BUON. You human sewer, why are you trifling with me?
BOYThat's what the merchant said.
BUON. By the gods, for this statement alone I will kill that wretched merchant today, if only I run into him. So take off this leg armor. Why are you standing there? Take it off, and instead hand me those leggings. It will be much better for me to have leggings rather than to wear leg armor and only one spur—or indeed none at all. But where will I get stocking to put on? Servant, let me see what kind you are wearing. Those are fine; take them off right away and put them on my legs. Tomorrow I'll give another pair to you, much nicer.
BOY Yes, on the Greek Kalends.
BUON. Hey, what are you mumbling?
BOY [Aside] I'm looking for a brush to take the dirt off these clothes.
BUON. Don't you remember that we don't have one? Brush it off with your hand. Why are you stopping? What are you looking at?
BOY Look in this pleat, Lord. Look what a magnificent, really fat louse I found here.
BUON. Squash it. Hand me water so that I can wash my hands.
BOY Stretch out your hands. I'll pour the water out of this jug. But we have no towels.
BUON. Hand me my cloak. What stops me from being able to dry my hands on my cloak? What are you gnawing?
BOY The bread that I got by begging, while you were asleep.
BUON. Give me one bite of it.
BOY It's too dirty.
BUON. It looks white enough to me. The highest gods must have eaten bread just like this.
BOY But it comes from begging.
BUON. Poverty certainly sharpens wits.
BOY y. If this is true, I'll eventually be smarter than anyone, for I am really poor from starving and fasting, more than I would like.
BUON. But doesn't a scanty diet prolong life?
BOY If so, I'll soon be immortal, because my diet is so meager that I can obviously live on this air alone.
BUON. That's enough nonsense already. Now I'll go for a walk. I'll belt on my sword. You, menial, throw my cloak neatly over my shoulders.
BOY I am doing it, Master.
BUON. But neatly, see that it does not hang too much either on the right side or the left.
BUON. See that my sword hangs well on my right.
BOY Most elegantly.
BUON. What do you think of this hat and the plume on top?
BOY Men will say that this plume belongs to Mars or Achilles.
BUON. That's my opinion too. Now it's time for me to go smartly to the palace of our countess, who has smitten my heart with the golden arrow of Cupid. It has been many years since her husband went abroad to soldier in distant lands, nor will he return, for they say that he died long since. Now I will become a suitor for the hand of this rich countess, now a widow. Although she is not as beautiful or as fashionable as the girls whom I loved when I was yet a youth, I would still choose this countess as my life's sole companion because of her abundant wealth and her lovely piles of money. If, as I hope, I succeed in winning her as my wife, how seriously will I plunder and trim these peasants down to their hides! How deeply will I get my claws into them!
But the door is creaking. If I'm not mistaken, her maid is coming out. I'll pay attention to see if an opportunity presents itself to talk with her. It's a real skill for anyone aiming at access to the mistress to know the suitable and winning way to approach the maids first.
ACT I, SCENE iij
ROSINA, BUONCOMPAGNO, BOY
ROS. I will take care of both matters, my Lady, and will soon be back. Look, what soldier is coming this way?
BUON. Now I'll make myself a model of attractiveness. I'll walk up with elbows out and I'll plant my steps firmly, with a martial air.
ROS. I cannot see well enough who is walking up looking like a milk jug.
BUON. I'll spit around gloriously.
ROS. It's Buoncompagno. From his hacking I know that shithead soldier. I wish he'd hack away his life.
BUON. I'll address the maid. Greetings, my dear woman.
ROS. Greetings to you, soldier.
BUON. Is the countess in good health, your lady, my life and salvation?
ROS. Neither good nor bad.
BUON. Why neither good nor bad?
ROS. Well of course because she does not know if she is a widow or a wife.
BUON. But I can make her know which one she is, just watch me.
BUON. When she accommodates herself to me, then (I repeat) she will know what she is and what she was.
ROS. I don't know what you mean.
BUON. You still don't understand?
ROS. Not yet, by heaven.
BUON. Then I'll tell you. If she marries me, I will make sure that she, now a widow, will become the wife of a most vigorous man. Now do you understand what I want?
ROS. O, my most vigorous soldier, take care not to say such a thing ever again.
BUON. Why? Is it that you think I am unworthy of a beautiful wife?
ROS. I don't say that, but this obstacle is in your way: your elegance and your good looks may reject the ugly, unattractive body of my lady.
BUON. I should do that? I should spurn her? One who will be my sole delight as long as I live! One who has lit such a blazing fire in my heart!
BOY [aside] Poverty has instead put ice in his purse.
ROS. A suggestion: why don't you choose a girl who is young, pretty, yielding, cheerful, and sweet?
BUON. In my mind your lady excels all maidens by a great length, if only she does not spurn me or keep herself apart from me. But do you know what I want from you?
ROS. No, but I will when you tell me.
BUON. I ask that you do me this favor: make sure I am admitted to her presence.
ROS. Our practice is that we do not invite anyone, but we do not drive away anyone that has business with us.
BUON. So when evening comes, I will come to converse with your mistress.
ROS. By heaven, my lady is not in the habit of having any conversation with men, since the time when her count left for Palestine to fight the Saracens with the emperor.
BUON. Do you think that your lady, my salvation, would not gladly speak with me?
ROS. Do you really think that I don't know my lady's mind much better than you do? But I am tarrying here too long. I will go where I have been sent. Farewell, most vigorous soldier.
BUON. Travel well, Rosina, and a thousand farewells! But do you hear me now? Give my Venus personal greetings from me.
ROS. What Venus?
BUON. Why the countess, of course.
ROS. I will, if I return here.
BUON. Now listen to this as well.
BUON. Be sure to put in a good word for me with her.
ROS. I will if I remember.
BUON. She's gone. Now, that's how to talk with maids. It is truly right for a soldier, whose money at home has gone crazy, to lay traps for rich widows. She will be my cornucopia which contains everything that I want. She will be able to support the weakened condition of my purse with a silver stanchion. But I have walked enough around here. No I will go home to bed, for I find that I did not sleep off yesterday's hangover well enough. Servant, follow me.
ROS. I'm coming.
ACT I, SCENE iv
How long will I, an unhappy woman, endure this dreadful grief and sad situation? How long will I be deprived of my sweet spouse, my most beloved protector? How long will I miss my husband? Fourteen years have now passed from the time when I first longed for him, waited for him. May God destroy in the worst manner that criminal who first told lies about the frenzies of war. War is the chief of all evils; war is the fount of grief and the doorway to all mourning and misery. Whatever is in Hell, whatever is in the Devil, is also in war, for without war, I would not have shed so many tears, and I would not be forced to live without my dear Ludwig.
ACT I, SCENE v.
ROSINA, THE COUNTESS
ROS. That stupid, persistent soldier delayed me entirely too long. I could scarcely break off from that blockhead full of dung. But why do I see my lady here in front of the palace? She is really sad, as is usual since the day when our count set out abroad for Jerusalem.
COUN. O God Almighty, when will you free me from this loneliness and bereavement, unfortunate as I am?
ROS. I'll speak to her. My Lady, I accomplished everything that you ordered.
ROS.But Mistress, why are you sad?
COUN. Oh, why would I not be sad? So many evils, so many troubles every day and every moment have piled on me so that I cannot very well find a beginning or an end to them.
ROS. Be of good spirits. How many happy results have come to pass for many people contrary to their expectations.
Con. But I know many who have found that what they hoped for soon vanishes.
ROS. And so a level-headed attitude is clearly the best seasoning for our miseries.
COUN. One thing consoles me in my misery, Rosina. Although my dear husband, whom I will never forget, has gone away, he did embark with the Emperor Frederick to recover the Holy Land and Jerusalem from our chief enemy, the common foe of all devoted Christians.
ROS. You speak only the truth, my Lady.
COUN. I must think that courage is always the best achievement. Courage certainly surpasses all other things. Courage preserves our security, our lives, our property, our parents and liberty, our nation, our children, and our descendants. Courage comprises everything else in itself. All blessings, all happiness attends the man who possesses courage.
ROS. You are certainly correct, my Lady. But do you mind if I now ask you something?
COUN. Why should I mind? Tell me what you want.
ROS. How many years have passed since you said goodbye to Ludwig, your lord?
ROS. Good God, fourteen years?
COUN. And in the meantime whether he lives, whether he is well, where he is, what he's doing, if he's doing anything—about all this he neither informs me nor does he ever return.
ROS. This one thing seems really surprising to me.
COUN. What is that?
ROS. That you act as if your absent husband is still present.
COUN. My Rosina, it is propriety and chastity to honor that man who chose me as his companion.
ROS. But to say here what I feel, I do not think he is among the living any more.
COUN. How do you know this?
ROS. If he were living, he would have long since greeted his native land or told some messenger to inform us where in the world he can be found.
COUN. Last night vividly in a dream I seemed to see my husband sitting at a distance from me. He did not approach me or pay me any attention, but said that he had another woman, whom he has come to love, whom he esteems, who has his promise of marriage—despite this, I will still try to find where in the world he is. I will not spare any effort.
ROS. I repeat: if he were alive, he would have been found by now. If you had given the Sun the job of searching for him with his blazing light, no one could have been tracked more carefully than Ludwig has been tracked.
[COUN. I will never stop searching.]
ROS. But what limit will there be for this search? It is now the fifteenth year since the servant, whom you had sent out so often before on this search, began his work. And unless I'm mistaken, he has done what you wished and has gone first to Palestine, then to Asia. He has traversed the entire upper ocean, farthest Greece, and all parts of Italy which touch the sea. I think that if he had been looking for a needle, he would have found it, if it were ever there. He's looking for a dead man among the living, because if the count were alive, he would have found him long since.
COUN. So I'm looking for that man who can definitely inform me, who can say that he knows the count is dead. After that I will make no effort to search. But otherwise I will never stop looking for him.
ROS. You are looking for a knot in a bulrush. Why not pick another husband instead, with whom you can live your life and who will properly care for you and your children?
COUN. Put an end to your smart talk and watch out for trouble. Don't be an annoyance; this will not happen according to your wishes.
ROS. Well, that statement tells me that I am a servant. You could not have said it more clearly in fewer words. But, mistress, I cannot stop speaking about this. How does it help you to lie cold in a cold bed for so many years after your husband has died? And when old age has carved wrinkles in your fact, then you will find it difficult to gain a husband.
COUN. Rosina you fool. If I wish it, I would find an inferior, a worse-mannered man than he was, but I will never find a better—nor has the sun ever seen one, if you survey everyone in the whole world. We human beings only recognize our blessings when we lose those things which we once possessed. I knew his value before my Ludwig departed, and now I miss him. And so if I have lost Ludwig forever, I have lost all that hope which had consoled me.
ROS. Now I fear that the servant whom you sent to seek the count may also be dead himself. He has never been away like this for so long a time — he has not made an appearance for five years!
COUN. Clearly I was born to be wretched, since trouble on trouble, grief on grief washes over me. How lucky is that unhappy Elisabeth, since she died some time ago.
ROS. Who was this, Mistress?
COUN. The daughter of the former King of Hungary, Andreas, who married Ludwig, the Landgrave of Thuringia and Hesse.
ROS. Whom did she marry? Was it that man whom our Count Ludwig left dying in Brundisium? That man whose bones were brought back here to Thuringia and are now interred in the Monastery of Reinhardsbrunn?
COUN. The very man, because he wanted to set out for the Crusade against the Saracens with Ludwig.
ROS. But I understand that his wife Elizabeth faced much greater dangers than you have, my Lady. In addition to losing her beloved, she also lost her mother, struck down by the sword, and then her son, named Hermann, was struck down by a virulent poison given to him by some witch. After that she was stripped of her own possessions by her husband's brother Heinrich. She endured all these misfortunes with unbelievable steadfastness.
COUN. I call her luckier in this respect, that she died and placed the final flourish on her troubles. If I were not going to leave my dearest children as survivors after me, what event could I yearn for more than death, which is called the final point of all things and which would terminate the hardships of my life? But why are we wasting this time uselessly here. I will go inside and pray that God, in his mercy, will finally put an end to these troubles.
ROS. But I will stay here, for I think I hear a man's voice. I'll see what he wants.
COUN. As you please.
ACT I, SCENE vi
HERMANN , ROSINA, THE COUNTESS
HERM. Make way for me, high-born and lowly alike, while I perform my duties. Everyone, flee, move away, and get out of the road, so that I, speeding along, don't bump anyone with my head, arm, chest, or knee. So suddenly am I charged with a business of hurry and dispatch! There is no one so rich that he can stand in my way, not a general, not a king, not a monk; not a lawyer or a judge, no one with such status that he will not fall, that he will not plunge headfirst from the sidewalk into the street. Take those hooded monks, those who walk with shaved heads, who go loaded down with crosses, with amulets—they stand around, they talk to each other with faces towards the ground. They stand in the way, they block the road, they shuffle along with their prayers. You may always see them drinking in their rich cloisters. But if they steal something or perchance catch some maiden, then they rush out of the cloister. If I collide with them, I'll knock a fishy fart out of every one of them. Those professors, those egghead intellectuals, those freshman students — I'll put all of them underground. So let them all stay home and avoid this misfortune.
Ros. By the immortal gods, whom do I see? Who is this coming here? Isn't this our servant Hermann, who was sent five years ago to Palestine? Hey, my Lady, come out quickly! Come out quickly, I say again!
COUNT. Rosina, what's this outcry you are making?
ROS. I see our servant Hermann running. I see him at the end of the street! Let's listen to what he is doing.
COUNT. I agree.
HERM.. Mercury, who is said to be the messenger of Jupiter, never carried to his father such a joyous and delightful message as the one I am now bringing to my mistress. My heart is loaded down with happiness and delight, and I want to speak to everyone only in grandiloquent tones. I bring all the delights of love, and my heart overflows its banks with happiness. Such a great blessing and rejoicing do I bring to my lady. If she did not know of this, my mistress would scarce dare ask the gods for it.
COUNT. It seems that something unknown will delight me here.
Ros. By heaven, he seems to be utterly overjoyed.
HERM.. Now I'll proceed to follow my orders and to get myself home. But, do my eyes see clearly? Is it her or not? It is her. Certainly it's her, for sure. O my hoped-for Lady, greetings!
COUNT. Greetings, Hermann.
HERM.. Greetings to you, Rosy.
COUNT. Why are you so happy? And Hermann, where have you been entertaining yourself for so long?
HERM.. I was not entertaining myself at all, but I can report that I have accomplished everything that my Lady sent me to do.
COUNT. Tell me what it is. Why hold me in suspense?
HERM.. I bring you news which you will particularly want to have a share in.
COUNT. You haven't heard anything about my excellent husband Ludwig, have you?
HERM.. He's alive and well.
COUNT. Now I ask where is he.
HERM.. I just left him close by, alive, safe, and in good health.
COUNT. The devil take you; you are joking with me.
HERM.. May Christ preserve me, I saw him and just parted from him.
ROS. Our Count.
HERM.. The Count.
COUNT. My husband?
HERM.. The very one.
COUNT. My spouse?
HERM.. By heaven, your spouse in person.
Ros. O God Almighty, what do I hear?
Con. Oh, my Ludwig has returned?
COUNT. He's back?
HERM.. Yes, by heaven.
COUNT. He's back?
HERM.. I swear to God.
COUNT. You are certain?
HERM.. Yes, absolutely certain.
COUNT. Take care now.
HERM.. By my holy faith he is back.
COUNT. Tell me, did you say these things in good faith?
HERM.. In the best faith. Why are you so doubtful? The count will be here shortly. He greets in my words his lady and his children. I would have told you this right at the start, if my joy had not prevented me. He ordered me to tell you this.
COUNT. That's how it happened?
HERM.. Yes, my Lady. So I rushed here to inform you that your husband is on his way.
COUNT. O, who is more fortunate than me, who is more full of joy? What shall I give you for this message? What indeed? By heaven I don't know.
HERM.. What shall you give me? Nothing. I am a servant and I fulfill my lord's commands.
COUNT. Give you nothing? Shall I allow you to go away unrewarded, you who dragged me back from the dead in Hades and brought me into the light of day at your advent! You think me too ungrateful!
HERM.. We are certainly wasting time here.
COUNT. O Creator of the gods and men, most blessed Savior! You granted this long awaited hope to me and I give you thanks. You have filled me with happiness and rejoicing. Now that my beloved spouse Ludwig has returned, now that such joy has come handed down from heaven itself, no future matter can ever occur which will give me grief.
ROS. O, dear Lady, as if on purpose Divine Hope has rescued you just in time.
COUNT. O dear Rosina, my soul has at last come back to me.
HERM.. But why are we standing her and causing delay? My lord will be here soon.
COUNT. Hey, maids, I am calling all of you; hey, Matilda, that means you. Are you listening? Hurry inside and wash the pots and pans clean.
ROS. May the gods prosper this! By Castor it cannot happen too soon!
COUNT. Be quiet and go in to make sure all is ready when the count returns. All of you start cooking, get ready, and hurry with all your might! Unseal all the casks; open all the vessels. I want my long-desired husband to be receive magnificently. Now, why am I standing here? I will go inside and wait until he arrives.
HERM.. I will wait here for a while — or I'll go meet him on the way.
ACT I, SCENE vii
How happy I made the Countess with this joyous, happy news! But, as in all human affairs, nothing is permanent. I fear that this Saracen maiden, whom Count Ludwig brought with him, will excite some commotion here. I thought it better to keep quiet about her for now than to tell the Countess the whole matter in detail. As far as I have been able to see on our trip from Venice to here, the Count loves her deeply as if he had found a wife in her. But whatever finally happens, as a servant I should not meddle in it. Instead (as I said) I'll run to meet the Count.
Go to Act II