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ACT III, SCENE i
As much as my age permits, I will step straight forward and make haste to move along. But I am not deceived about how easy that is for me; my nimbleness has left me and I am weighed down with age. I can scarcely carry my burdensome body; my strength is gone. What a grievous load on your back is old age! It bring so many bad things with it when it arrives. If I were to run through all of them, my speech would be too long. But I cannot keep myself at home any longer, and so I hasten with as rapid a step as I can manage to visit my Count, who has finally arrived home from foreign lands, as my maid has just informed me. As soon as I had heard this, I immediately hurried to give my salutations to the Count, who in earlier days made me a frequent sharer of his food and wine.
ACT III, SCENE ii
HERMANN, THE CHAPLAIN
HERM. I will go to bring the Saracen girl into the palace, as my Count ordered.
CHAP. Who is that man with military leggings?
HERM. Who is that man over there dressed in a robe?
CHAP. It's Hermann, if I'm not mistaken.
HERM. If I remember rightly, it's the chaplain.
CHAP. I'll approach him.
HERM. I'll draw near to him.
CHAP. I rejoice that you have returned safely with the Count.
HERM. A thousand greetings, my reverend Lord Chaplain.
CHAP. Please tell me what strange things have you brought from such remote lands?
HERM. Many strange things, but more bad than good.
CHAP. How is that? Did not your Lord Count return safe and sound to his homeland?
HERM. Yes, he is in fine shape.
CHAP. Perhaps the Countess grew sad at his arrival — but I can hardly believe that.
HERM. No, she did not.
CHAP. So tell me what it is.
HERM. I would gladly tell you, but one thing stops me from speaking about it.
CHAP. So I would like you to tell me about that one thing.
HERM. If you promise me that you'll tell no man about it.
CHAP. So go ahead and tell me, because whatever you say, you'll be saying it to a stone.
HERM. As long as it is kept secret.
CHAP. Nothing will ever be kept as secret as what you tell me.
HERM. But first, my Lord Chaplain, there is one thing which I must find out from you.
CHAP. Ask whatever you like.
HERM. Can one man have two wives?
CHAP. Why are you asking me that?
HERM. First answer what I ask. The I'll tell you why I asked you.
Chap. So I'll answer that it is not legitimate for one man to have two wives or even more, but only one, as passages expressly say in the sacred scriptures. For instance, the unmistakeable voice of our God sanctions this in the Bible: “The two shall be one flesh.” Christ himself repeated this in Matthew chapter 19: “He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said for this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh.”
HERM. But did the old patriarchs not have concubines, just as Abraham once had relations with his maidservant Hagar?
CHAP. In the Old Testament this was permitted. But we now live under the New Testament. For example I am not allowed even one wife, although I would happily marry one. But, Hermann, why ask me what you already know?
HERM. My Lord Chaplain, I will tell you in detail, if you like.
CHAP. So tell me, instead of practically killing me with your long, rambling chatter.
HERM. I will. Our Count, to say the whole thing in one word, now has two wives.
CHAP. What are you saying?
HERM. I repeat, Ludwig of Gleichen has married two wives.
CHAP. In God's name, how do you know this?
HERM. The thing speaks for itself.
HERM. When he was detained in Saracen country, he married a second maiden, who is sweet, cheerful, elegant, yielding.
CHAP. Why did he dare to do that?
HERM. Why? Maybe he thought the Countess was dead.
CHAP. He should have investigated the matter thoroughly first. But where is she now? How do you know that the Count made a second attachment in Saracen country?
HERM. That servant who accompanied him from farthest Palestine to our land just told me this in detail. Now I going to bring this interloper of a wife, this girl I told you about, here into our house, as the Count has directed me. She is waiting in this nearby house.
CHAP. Great God, what am I hearing!
HERM. My Lord Chaplain, these are the facts.
CHAP. But, I ask, what does your excellent Countess say about this business?
HERM. What can she say? She in totally ignorant of the situation.
CHAP. Hermann, your words have thrown me into great astonishment. What do you think I should do? I wanted to greet your Count as he arrives home, and was just on the way to do so.
HERM. My Lord Chaplain, you can still do this, just so they do not suspect that I said anything.
CHAP. I will do so, and now I'll head inside. Farewell, my friend Hermann.
HERM. Farewell to you too, and be sure to stay silent about what I said.
CHAP. I will and you be quiet as well.
ACT III, SCENE iii
He's gone. I'm sure that this new connection with the Saracen girl will cause some problems of the worst kind. But why do I see Falerna, our Saracen servant girl, running this way from the end of the street? I will wait and see what she wants that makes her rush so fast.
ACT III, SCENE iv
FAL. I am going to see when the Count will send for my mistress Sultana. But don't I see Hermann leaving the palace right now?
HERM. Falerna, why are you running here?
FAL. To see when your Count will order Sultana to be summoned home, that Sultana whom he married some time ago.
HERM I am doing this, so calm down. But why do you call Sultana the wife of my Count, who already had a wife at home before he set out for Palestine?
FAL. Naturally because in her homeland your Count joined himself to Sultana in the most secure bonds of matrimony.
HERM. But maybe he thought that his former wife had died.
FAL.So what? Like it's not legal to marry two wives?
HERM. I'm aware that this custom has taken hold in barbarous Palestine and among the savage Saracens.
FAL. So, since he married his wife according to the Saracen custom, he will also keep my lady as wife.
Her. You are totally mistaken. You will not find that this has ever been done in our Germany, that one man can have two wives whenever he wishes. But why is Rosina hurrying here with Carloman?
ACT III, SCENE v
CARLOMANNUS, ROSINA, HERMANNUS, FALERNA
CARL. I'll be damned if my Lord Count didn't marry her some time ago.
ROS. Are you still lying, you bum, you moron?
CARL. So why did he bring our lady to Germany?
ROS. Only he knows the reason for that.
HERM. Rosina, what are you mumbling about?
ROS. What has never been told in story, pictured in painting, nor written in poems.
HERM. I suppose you heard that our Count has married a Saracen wife?
ROS. This barbarian slander-spreader wants to make me believe this, contrary to law.
CARL. By heaven, I remember that it happened!
FAL. It's certainly true.
ROS. I suppose you are the one — pray, tell me that!
FAL. Not me, but my lady is the one whom you will soon see in the Count's palace giving you orders, because I think you are a servant too.
ROS. This one is talking crazy as well.
HERM. Wait a minute until she finishes this one nap.
ROS. Is she dreaming while awake?
FAL. By Castor, I am wide awake and while awake am telling you what really happened.
ROS. How in the devil can this be? Be sure that I need proof in this matter, that while his first wife was alive, he married another, against every law — that's what I want to hear.
CARL. We care nothing about your laws. Our mistress will be the Countess.
ROS. You are babbling. Neither the head nor the foot of your words makes sense.
FAL. You witch, why are you slowing us down. You cannot make undone what is done. I think you are an honest woman!
ROS. Our Count does not love whores or hired women!
FAL. You don't think that my lady, of royal descent, is a whore or a concubine?
ROS. Whoever wants to be called chaste does not chase married men overseas, but stays at home.
FAL. What are you saying, you twisted woman? If my lady had not lived, your Count would never have seen Germany again. That is the reason he married her. Now you know the whole situation.
ROS. Are you stupid enough to thing that my Count would desert his wife whom he loved so desperately and from whom he had two sons?
FAL. What does it matter to us if his wife bore free-born sons to the Count? Instead my mistress gave the Count freedom in place of slavery.
HERM. Why are you stupid women arguing about this? It will not happen according to your wishes. Our mistress will remain the Count's wife.
FAL. On the contrary, our lady will be the countess.
HERM. Why are you shouting, you barbarian female? I know you have a good voice, but don't shout too much, you slut.
FAL. By Hercules, I will really shout.
HERM. You wretch, I'll stop that tongue of yours, unless you keep quiet.
CARL. If you hold even one of her fingers, I'll make sure that the ants carry you away in little pieces.
ROS. I wish I'd been born a man, then I'd really show him.
HERM. Not so angry. It's really not decent for a servant to be arrogant.
CARL. But it is decent for an innocent and blameless servant to have confidence in his mistress.
FAL. And it is decent for me, as a maidservant, to have confidence in my mistress.
HERM. Yes, well, your voice is strong enough.
FAL. I have a tongue here that is made to always return a compliment. I get salt at the same price as you do and unless my tongue protects me, it will never again lick salt.
FAL. Please, silence! By heaven you are certainly full of fantasies. Why should I say more?
CARL. You faker, be quiet, you who always mint coins of lead.
ROS. You see how his eyes are turning green, how a green color is coming over his temples and his forehead? How his eyes flash? Look!
HERM. I see it.
FAL. Follow me, Carloman, come this way. Shall I take this any longer or be silent about it? I'd rather die than not tell Sultana about this. Is this the poor repayment for Sultana, who freed your count? She left her own country and her parents and followed him through the snow to this hideous Germany. Now she will be shoved out the door? You can hang me a thousand times before you will get away with this in silence.
CARL. I'll go with you.
FAL. Follow me.
ACT III, SCENE vi
THE COUNTESS, ROSINA, HERMANN
COUN. Some strange rumors have reached my ears! But do I see Hermann standing here with Rosy? And both thinking about something?
ROS. By heaven, here comes theçountess.
ROS. She's coming straight for us.
HERM. I'm really afraid that she has heard our argument here.
HERM. My Lady, why do you call me?
COUN. What quarrel were you causing here? Rosina, why are you so unhappy?
ROS. I'm not unhappy.
HERM. We did not cause any quarrel.
COUN. I certainly saw you jousting with these Saracens. Tell me what it is. Rosina, what is it?
ROS. Oh mistress, alas, there is some woman here in this neighboring house.
COUN. What woman?
ROS. Ask Hermann.
COUN. Tell me what's going on. Why are you so silent?
HERM. For a servant it is better to know than to speak; this is simply good sense.
COUN. By heaven I don't know why you are so sententious now. You are trembling. When I look into your face I see that you have done something to deserve punishment.
HERM. I don't deserve any punishment.
COUN. Why are you hesitating? Tell me right away. [aside] I really think he's drunk.
HERM. I wish I were, my lady.
COUN. You are hoping for something that's already happened!
COUN. Yes, you. Where were you drinking?
HERM. I have not been drinking anywhere.
COUN. Now you, Rosina, why are you hesitating? Who is this woman in the nearby house, the one you mentioned?
ROS. You were not to know.
COUN. What do you mean? Keep talking.
ROS. They say he married a wife.
COUN. Who did?
ROS. Your lord.
COUN. My lord?
ROS. That's what they say.
ROS. That's him.
COUN. You idiot, who dreamed this up?
ROS. Ask Hermann instead.
COUN. Hermann, tell me what you have not been telling me in this tardy way.
HERM. That's what happened.
COUN. Now, wretched me, I'm done for.
HERM. There's no doubt that the servants say that the count married in true faith this woman who had freed him.
COUN. By the gods what an ugly, evil deed!
HERM. Please don't torment yourself like this.
COUN. Who saw her?
HERM. I did.
COUN. You saw her?
HERM. With my own eyes.
COUN. Where? Tell me.
HERM. In Venice, as soon as I met my master; he kept her with him on his entire journey.
COUN. If in fact all this is true.
HERM. Mistress, why do I deserve to be called a liar?
COUN. But my Ludwig told me that he was bringing a young captive Saracen girl of an attractive appearance which befits a free-born person.
HERM. But they say that he married her. For this reason my lord count sent me here in a rush to bring the girl to the palace immediately. I'm doing that now. Mistress, please keep what we said in secrecy.
COUN. I did not hear a word.
HERM. I'm off.
ACT III, SCENE vii
COUN. God Almighty, with what perils, with what savage misfortunes have you afflicted this unhappy wife? Has there ever been anything more wrongfully done nowadays? Was this the cause of my husband's long stay abroad? Was this the reason for my dream, which I remember I saw last night in my sleep: that my husband had married another wife and rejected me, his wife of long-standing? O fate, o evil fortune! What limit will there be to this trouble?
ROS. Please, mistress, don't weep too much. Stop these sighs.
COUN. O my dearest Rosina, what a future do you imagine for me? Shall I watch this concubine of exceeding loveliness in our palace, I ask you? And see my husband Ludwig conversing with her afterwards? Will he be with her in the same palace and sometimes dine with her, then sleep next to her? Will she shove me out of the palace with my sweetest children, poverty-stricken, starving beggars? Why am I living? Why don't I die? That barbarian concubine has erased me from the family. However, whatever trouble comes to me, whatever I am forced to bear, I will abide and endure it with God's help and with patience, for God is the only solace for my miseries. I will go inside and hide myself in a dark corner and dedicate my tears to myself alone, until I have had enough. It is often the greatest pleasure to be able to weep for oneself.
Go to Act IV