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ACT IV SCENE i
SIGISMUND, LITLE LUDWIG
SIG. What you told me is amazing, brother Ludwig.
L. L. It's the truth, Sigismund. Our mother is sitting unhappy in a corner and doing nothing except pouring out tears.
SIG. By God, what kind of misfortune can I say has happened?
L. L. I really do not know. She was unwilling to say anything to me.
SIG. Perhaps she was not happy to see our lord father again?
L. L. That is not the case. You saw with what a happy face, what a joyous heart she received him when he arrived. But our Rosy told me something in secret, which I will tell you if you don't tell to anyone.
SIG. I will not reveal to anyone whatever you tell me in secret.
L. L. First swear that you will tell no one what I say to you.
SIG. Truely, my brother, it will never be spread abroad to anyone.
L. L. We still have a mother — but one whom father brought with him from those foreign lands from which he came today.
SIG. You are really crazy, brother.
L. L. No, I'm telling you the truth. Very soon Hermann will bring us this mommy.
SIG. Please tell me why you are so gullible as to believe everything he says right away.
L. L. Why wouldn't I believe what our Rosy said?
SIG. Don't you know that they often play games with us?
L. L. Not this time. She swore to me with a solemn oath the our lord father had brought another mommy to us from the far-off Saracen land.
SIG. Who can believe what has never been heard of?
L. L. Soon you will hear that this did happen.
SIG. But our custom does not allow this, does it?
L. L. Our father will introduce this custom from Saracen lands.
SIG. Neither the priests nor the supreme Pontiff will allow it.
L. L. So what? Neither the priests nor your Pontiff have any power to rescind what was promised in Saracen country.
L. L. I ask you, why did father pledge himself to her in marriage?
Lud.S. Because of his freedom, which he received from this maiden.
SIG. You are clearly crazy, brother.
L. L. You are crazy for denying what is clear to everyone.
SIG. Whether it is true or not, I'll never despise or desert my lady mother.
L. L. I'll never do that either, but I won't desert our new mother either. As far as I can, I'll always love her as one who freed our father, just as Rosy says. Hermann was saying that she is, in addition to everything else, the most beautiful of all.
SIG. You are clearly an idiot who is eager to love someone you have not seen.
L. L. Why shouldn't I love someone who restored our dear father to me? I will go now to meet her. As soon as Hermann brings her to us, I'll talk to her right away. I will greet her as she approaches. I will give her an honest handshake and call her “mother.”
SIG. But I am going back to my one mother, who is so sad. I will console her as she weeps all alone, and, by heaven, I will inform her of your stupidity. But who is this coming here?
L. L. Where?
SIG. There. Do you see?
L. L. At last, if I'm not mistaken, our other mother is now coming near. I'm going, because I am eager to see her.
SIG. So go. By heaven I will tell our mother of your presumption.
ACT IV, SCENE ii
SULTANA, FALERNA, CARLOMAN, HERMANN, LITLE LUDWIG
SUL. What nonsense are you pouring into my ears? Instead, just go ahead and do what I ordered. You, Falerna, be sure to bring these things to us in the palace of the count, my dearest spouse and husband.
FAL. I will do it, but mistress, wait here; go back to our country.
CARL Mistress, what do you wish?
SUL. See to this as fast as possible: take these things out of this inn right away. Then be sure to come to meet me before sunset
FAL. Don't you know what kind of people these are, mistress?
SUL. I repeat, be silent now. It will be a pain to me, not to you, if I do anything stupid. But you are a stupid and foolish maid, as I have seen just now. However, the fidelity and honesty of my husband is much better known to me than these matters which you falsely imply I should fear. Now, Hermann, I will go inside with you if it's convenient.
HERM. As you please, since the master ordered it.
SUL. Who is the young man who stands before us?
HERM. He is the master's son Ludoviculus.
SUL. He is approaching us.
L. L. I'll go and speak to her. A thousand greetings, Mother.
SUL. Greetings to you, dear son, greetings. But why do you call me mother? Who told you that I am your mother?
L. L. Aren't you that maiden who caused our lord father to return to his native land?
SUL. Yes, I am. I admit it.
L. L. So I will offer you great thanks as long as I live because of my father's freedom.
SUL. Instead we should give the greatest thanks to God, who alone freed us, who alone brought us here.
L. L. But there is one thing that I would sincerely beg from you.
SUL. Tell me what you wish, my excellent son.
L. L. That you be my beloved mother, and that you consider me your son.
SUL. Be assured that I dedicate my whole heart to you, my whole being to you.
L. L. In return I dedicate myself completely to you, o longed-for mother.
HERM. But why are we staying here; why are we causing delays? I know well that the count is waiting for us.
SUL. As you please.
L. L. Go ahead. I'll follow.
ACT IV, SCENE iii
Now no anxiety has a home in my mind. Far from anxious, today I am parted from and free from all griefs, disasters, and calamities, starting from the time when the count returned from abroad and I was freed from this dim-witted Buoncompagno, this horny blockhead. In his service I was almost slaughtered in the most disgraceful way from hunger and thirst. Now Hermann, the count's servant, has just hired me to work diligently cleaning the saddle blankets and the harness in the stables. In addition my job is to remove the horse manure from the stable and comb the necks and manes of the horses with these currycombs, or to insert cow manure in their hoofs depending on the value of the horse, or to give them oats and hay and spread their bedding. But, by God Almighty, who is this I see coming from way over there? By heaven, it’s Buoncompagno. It's him, it's really him. I'll run from here as fast as I can and will hide well away in the stable under a pile of straw. If Buoncompagno catches me, he will beat me to death with sticks and cut me to pieces with two blows.
ACT IV, SCENE iv
May the gods destroy the man who first discovered the hours and who first set up this sundial to make me miserable by cutting up my day into little bits! When I was a boy, this belly was my sundial, a much better and more accurate one than all these. That one told me when to eat, unless I had nothing. Nowadays, even when I have something, I can't start eating unless the sun permits. This city is so crowded with sundials that the majority of the populace creeps along, dried up with hunger. But now I may digress a bit until dinnertime arrives, when I will head for the countess' table and seat myself, even without an invitation. (As is the practice among us soldiers, I will invite myself with graceful, charming, loving, and honeyed words.) So that I don't waste this time while I am hanging around here, I will briefly relate the course of my life to you. I ask that all of you pay attention, so that you will know what kind of man is Buoncompagno.
After I quit grammar school with a proper grounding in Latin and Rheoric, my parents sent me as a young man to the University to devote myself to Political Science and the Corpus Juris. While there I followed this practice: I immediately sold off all my books containing Latin writers, so that I could ignore all scholastic quibbling and immediately start practicing my legal arguments. I was thinking: “Why should I delay my career with these literary obscurities? Why not just get busy with more usable studies which will enable me to disembowel the pocketbooks of these wretched peasants, wrongly twist the law, extort money, plunder widows, and strip orphans.” This is what I first suggested to myself. But I had always liked kitchen juice better than courtroom justice, and in the Institutes I repeatedly read the one section On Marriages. Certain sections from the Digest I had especially taken to heart, to wit: On Examining the Belly, On Using Another's Timber, as well as the sections On Theft, On Concubines, On Acknowledging Children, On Injurious and Slanderous Libel. I studied these section every day just like the Pragmatics. Although I disputed theses on temperance (which someone else wrote for me), in fact I was very far from being temperate. I sent these theses to my friends in my homeland so that I could show everyone my progress and my skill, although — as you have noticed — I wrote nothing and I stood silent instead of responding to any statement of my opponents.
Having done this, I seemed to myself to be the most educated of all men, and it was then I first girded on my sword — or rather I tied myself to my sword — and strode up and down the streets, watching to see if any elegant young ladies might see me from their windows as I strode along. In the evenings I would engage them in friendly conversation. For them I bought from the merchants — but make no mistake, never with ready money — necklaces, knives, belts, gloves, pearls, slippers, scarves, rings, and whatever else girls really go for, and I gave these things to them. Very soon, whenever there was a wedding, in each clique I studied how to gain the first prize, dancing with the girls like a mountain goat, a kid, or a rooster. As soon as night blotted out the day with its black gloom, then I wandered through the streets and the alleyways and surpassed Stentor in bellowing out a thousand epithets. I shat on the doorways or attached horns to them, and where there were doorbells mounted on the houses, I tied mice to them with string. I smashed the windows of the professors with wild stone-throwing, or if some people were carrying lamps or torches or some other light in the street, I attacked them with drawn sword, beating on the cobblestones with the edge of my weapon. Finally, worn out with these thousand encounters, I took to my soft bed, spending the night either with friends or in an inn. I extended my slumbers into the daylight as I slept off my hangover. Then I arose barely in time for lunch. While I adorned myself, combed my hair, and got dressed, half the day had passed in the middle. Right after taking lunch, I entertained myself with a thousand more encounters. However, I did not visit the University, where my ink bottle sat drier than dust, where my books lay covered with mouse droppings and completely fly-specked, so filthy that you would swear that they had been excavated from an outhouse. During this time, since I pretended that I was learning foreign languages, I would occasionally insert French or Italian phrases in my native tongue, especially phrases like Signorsi, oui Monsieur, grandmerci, bascio le mani, a Dio. I mixed these phrases into my conversation a thousand times.
It's worth your while to hear what sort of landlords I had a various times while at the University. When I first came from school, I was recommended to take lunch and dinner at one old fox's establishment. However every mealtime for months she attacked me with relentless criticism, to wit: I should take the food less greedily; I should not grab the meat away from anyone; I should drink a little more politely; I should not smear my hands or the tables with such filth. What annoyed me the most was that I should be willing to recite from memory one verse out of the Bible before each meal. After I could stand this no longer, I soon found another more accommodating table. I can tell you that my parents had sent me to this university so that I might learn to associate with scholars and to hear as well as present various lectures, especially on political science. Therefore I took residence at another boardinghouse which supported very many residents, all of them however decorated with beards and daggers, which did not please me at all. First they called me in everyone's hearing ABC Boy, then Frosh, then Bacchus’ Laureate, and finally Clodex, and they harassed me to such an extent that at times they laid heavy hands on me. This was the worst part, that I did not dare make a peep against them — unless I wanted to be totally dispatched by their fists. It was just as if I was living in the banquet of the Centaurs.
After suffering these things a while, I decided to say farewell to this table too, justifying my departure by citing the high costs and that the landlord too often confused my bill with his extra-special wine. I thought it better to eat with the dogs in the kennel rather than subject myself to so many beatings. After some time I finally took myself to some teacher who was honest, hollow-cheeked, and pale, and who dressed in an academic cloak. He had a nasty wife, barrel-shaped, toothless, pale, and stuffed with food. She never brought to the table any vegetable with dressing or any nicely cooked porridge or anything similar, but always lentils, beans, barley, peas, turnips, yesterday's soup, so spoiled, so nauseatingly prepared with discarded bones, along with wines so sharp, so musty, so sulphured, so adulterated that if I had stayed there any longer, from hunger I would have been changed and looked like a living corpse. I eventually escaped these landlords just as if fleeing a devastating storm, and I decided to make my residence in a pub, where I associated with all sorts of fellow-drinkers. Still I never paid my share to anyone, but incurred large debts. Once at night I wounded some rustic and he almost died. Then, because she got pregnant against all expectation, a maidservant gifted me with a small child. No calamity ever comes unaccompanied, and so I was accused and dragged to jail with no delay. There I went, faced by a thousand creditors on every side.
All these came: the innkeeper, the bookseller, the tailor, the goldsmith, the linen-weavers, the furriers, the bookbinders, the musicians. There were painters, barbers, bath attendants, glassblowers, menders, retailers, butchers, cooks, grooms, bird-catchers, cobblers, brewers, bowyers, jewelers, confectioners, guitar players, trumpeters, flautists, horn players, sword makers, merchants, landlords, lamp makers, cheese-makers, ball players, belt-makers, hat-makers, fishmongers, wine-sellers, stable boys, pharmacists, bakers, goldsmiths, bagpipers, gymnasts, and gladiators. Some women were there, some spinners and some laundrywomen, who wanted me to pay my debts to them. A caterer was there with my bills, my checks. All of them were standing there, were counting, were pleading their case, were wanting to be paid. The total amount was in dispute, and my creditors' hopes were prorogued to another day by my lawyer while they waited for the return of a messenger sent to my homeland. He would (they hoped) bring the money which they were seeking. All those days and nights while I was held in very strict custody I was thinking of nothing but how could I free myself from this dreadful jail. After wearing out my mind with a thousand plans, I used this trick. In the evening, when the guard in the jail was bringing me food, I spoke to him: “Oh, what a dangerous jail you shoved me in! It's horrible how many toads have taken up residence here in the corner!” Amazed at this prodigy and wanting to see if he too could view these toads, the guard came towards me without paying attention. As I pointed to the corner which I had mentioned to him and as he passed by, I struck him a blow with such force that he fell immediately to the ground. I quickly grabbed the door, opened it, refastened the lock, departed, and very soon was stealthily rushing out the city gate, while the guard remained in the cell that whole night. For a while I fled during the night, and during the day I lay low hiding in the forest. I changed my clothes and shaved my beard, making myself completely unrecognizable. I traveled through many lands north and south, leaving behind at the University those creditors whom I mentioned. I endured many pains and did many bold deeds, as I followed the soldier's trade. I was ennobled under the propitious name Buoncompagno and at last moved to this land of Thuringia.
ACTUS IV, SCENA v
HERM. I took Sultana into the house; I don't know what will happen there. I'll head for the stables. But who is this man whom I see here? What man is appearing here before my eyes? I don't recognize him.
Buon. Now, since I claim to be of that class, it befits me to accomplish some bold deeds, noble deeds which will live long after me.
HERM. See here, I'd like to know what this one wants with his sword. I will lie in wait here to see what he plans to do.
BUON. Now is the time to attend this widowed countess.
HERM. I really cannot determine what kind of bird this is who comes here with his cloak and with a crest on his hat. Is he perhaps coming from the baths wrapped in a robe? By heaven his appearance seems military.
BUON. I have no doubt that after I gracefully lay my flatteries on the countess with soothing and loving words, right now, this evening, she will take me as her husband.
HERM. What's he muttering about the countess?
BUON. I have a plan, which I will accomplish. I will first a wise and crafty suitor. When I am her spouse, then at last I will take in hand all the riches that the countess has and will turn them to my use. With these riches I will be the life of the party wherever I go. I will always sleep in a fine bed, I will refresh myself with fine food, I will embrace and fondle fine women, as soon as I have liberally watered my inner man with Lesbian and Cretan wine, old in years and quite mellow. I will be called a king among kings. Afterwards, for my entertainment I will now and then buy the best horses for myself and ride through all our cities, where my fame, my glory, and my nobility will be famed in every place. Then I will build a great castle, which I will christen Castle Buoncompagno, after my name.
HERM. What castle is this conjuror saying he will construct? Or perhaps he is building it in the air?
BUON. In this way I will inaugurate a monument to my fame and deathless deeds, as well as a great kingdom. But now I will go inside. Hey, who is standing here?
HERM. I'll make fun of this nosy pervert — at least until he realizes that he is being made a fool of.
BUON. Perhaps he's one of the countess' servants?
HERM. Hey, do we owe you anything?
HERM. Stop questioning me about things which don't concern you.
HERM. By heaven, you are ridiculous. Why did you not greet me first?
BUON. Don't you know that it is military practice to greet well-wishers with a salute, but likewise to give big trouble to antagonists? But is the countess indoors or not?
HERM. As I remember, she is, since she obviously ordered me to wait for you.
BUON. What are you saying?
HERM. Only the facts. But tell me, what country did you come from?
BUON. From the one where I was the supreme emperor.
HERM. So, from jail?
BUON. If you voice insults, you will hear them back.
HERM. When you were a child, did you usually sleep in a cradle?
BUON. Why are you making fun of me, you scoundrel?
HERM. I'm not joking. I do want to know what business you have here with my mistress.
BUON. What's it to you? Instead take me indoors to your countess.
HERM. I will do so. First tell me your name, so that I can see if you are the one whom the countess has been expecting inside the house.
BUON. I am Buoncompagno.
HERM. A soldier?
BUON. One who slew one hundred thousand flying men in one day — with my own hands.
HERM. What, mosquitos?
BUON. No, men, I say.
HERM. What is this “flying men”? I'm asking, Buoncompagno, are there anywhere men who fly? Maybe they are lawyers, who fly without feathers nowadays?
BUON. There were, but then I killed them all, every one of them.
HERM. How could you do that?
BUON. I'll tell you. I gave birdlime to my legion.
HERM. For what purpose?
BUON. They charged their slings with large balls of birdlime.
HERM. What then?
BUON. I ordered them to be shot at as they flew.
HERM. Keep going.
BUON. What need of many words? As my men hit each one with the birdlime, they fell to the ground as thick as pears when the tree is shaken. As each one fell entangled, I killed him right away, piercing his brain with one of his own feathers, just like killing a dove.
HERM. Buoncompagno, you are telling me marvels. But one more thing: how much did it cost to rent this cloak?
HERM. I'm asking you how much this sword cost.
BUON. I see you need some hellebore. Lay off!
HERM. How much money does this hat and its crest cost its master?
BUON. Hey, what master? You must be a wicked and deceitful servant to mock a foreigner and a stranger like this.
HERM. In turn I believe you are certainly a lying trickster.
BUON. Away with your abuse. Hold your tongue. You'll restrain your abuse of me, if you are wise. I am unwilling that anyone insult my family, for (as you well know) I was born of illustrious descent, and will be the beloved spouse of the Countess here.
HERM. Which Countess?
BUON. Naturally the one here, who has been a widow for many years since the count set off abroad for the Saracen war.
HERM. What stories are you telling me, Buoncompagno? How can the countess be a widow, since she has not yet lost her husband?
BUON. You're crazy.
HERM. No, you're crazy; you dream while you are awake.
BUON. So why did your countess invite me to dine with here this evening?
HERM. What are you saying? The countess invited you, a soldier, to dinner?
BUON. That's what I'm saying.
HERM. But when Count Ludwig returns home from those far shores, how will you then be able to marry the countess?
Buon. You are lying, since the count has been dead for a long time.
HERM. What are you raving about, you madman? If you don't hurry away from here with long steps, I'll be separating those false, curly, carefully arranged locks together with their pomade from your skull.
BUON. For what reason?
HERM. Because you dared to approach our door all reeking of perfume, because you have your cheeks so beautifully rouged, and because you spew so many lies with only one breath. Villain, why are you threatening me with a sword? Take this! Take that!
ACT IV, SCENE vi
CARLOMANN, BOY, HERMANN, BUONCOMPAGNO
CARL. Hey, what is this?
BOY He's assaulting Buoncompagno!
HERM. Help, you all come here! Bring him along. If he doesn't come, lift him up on high. Put him between heaven and earth. Cut him to pieces.
BUON. By Hercules, I beg you, my dear servant!
HERM. By Hercules, you are begging in vain. It's for certain that today I will plant you in the ground with my knuckles.
BUON. I'm done for.
HERM. What? Are you going to say again that I'm lying?
BUON. I'm perishing!
HERM. First let's pound him with our fists.
BOY And very hard!
HERM. Why did you dare to tell so many lies about our countess?
BUON. By the love of all the gods, it's all over for me!
HERM. He lies.
BUON. I'm done for. Wait while I tell you.
HERM. [To the others.] Why are you stopping?
BUON. Am I not allowed to talk?
HERM. So talk.
BUON. I was asked to come here to you.
HERM. How did you dare to? Take this!
BUON. I've been beaten enough today. I beg you.
HERM. What business did you have coming here? What business approaching her? What business even knowing the countess?
BUON. Oh, what I said as a joke don't change into something serious.
HERM. What are you saying? What are you mumbling, you girl-hunter? Put your knuckles in his face! Boy, mash your fist into his stomach!
BOY I'm doing it, Hermann.
HERM. You villain, why are you hitting your own master?
BOY Just start to use force on him just a little, just as a joke — I'll send you away from here so decorated that you won't know who you are. Why were you hunting the countess?
BUON. I thought she was a widow. That's what the maid, my go-between, told me.
HERM. Scoundrel, you lie. Now, soldier, I'm telling you how it is. If I catch you in the street ever again and you say to me: “I was looking for the countess; I was summoned inside,” you die right then. Aren't you leaving now?
BUON. I'm leaving, just let me go.
HERM. Do you know how things stand with you? If you start any disturbance here today, I'll make you remember this day and me forever.
BUON. I'm begging you.
HERM. Let him go.
CARL. We will.
BUON. Hand me my cloak.
HERM. As for your cloak, hat, and sword — don't hope for them; you won't get them.
BUON. Oh, just let me leave here alive.
BOY Hand over those socks which you stole from me.
BUON. Boy, take the socks.
HERM. Now let's leave for the stable.
CARL. As you wish.
BOY I'll follow you. [Everyone except Buon. leaves.]
BUON. I am not surprised by anyone who goes mad after such injuries. They beat me so badly, and they stole my things even though I resisted. He inflicted more than five hundred blows on me. Alas, I am now reduced to these boots and shoes! By heaven, no one will ever see me alive after today. I am going inside and burden my gullet with a dose of hemp. I am doing this so that men will not say that I died of starvation. But whatever happened to me, I must say that it happened with justice. If the same thing happened to others who want to hunt down rich maidens or wealthy and well-dowered widows, they would be less devoted to those pursuits, which they constantly follow now. But I will go elsewhere, because I plainly see that I have lost my place in this family. You spectators really need not wait for me to return by this road.
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