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ACT II, SCENE i
PEL. What whirlwind will hide me and carry me far away from this sinful court? What artful guardian angel will free my foot from this unspeakable snare? Who will set me down either in the icy polar climes, or where the titan bakes the land, driving too near in his chariot, so that ,either among the ravening beasts of the Caucasus or where the fields of Libya breed monsters, I might pass my days amidst blood-thirsty snakes? Thus I would be kept, if not safe from danger, at least pure and untainted by sin. To have heard of such a scandal with my ears! I am all but guilty of sin, to have been surrounded by so much of it that I shudder. He will learn that I have turned a deaf ear to unspeakable wrongdoing, even if I must be so fastidious as to break free of his embrace and refuse the kisses of this flattering fellow: it is criminal to have obliged even a base king, and I regard it as criminal even to have entered his very house. Should I be false and abjure Christ’s faith? Should I be an apostate and be enlisted in that foul crew? Ah, sooner should the earth gape open, revealing the Styx, and plunge me into the waters of Phlegethon, before I would play the traitor and violate you, holy faith, or play the rascal and shake off Christ’s sweet yoke! What noise strikes my ears? Alas, where am I to be taken? But it’s Zunelmus. [Enter Zunelmus.]
ACT II, SCENE ii
ZUN. Pray grant my wish, my friend, and allow me to enjoy your conversation for a little while. Let me complain about your unschooled uncouthness, your mind’s mulish character, and the flintiness of your heart. Why are you rigid, unmanageable, and bitter, shunning all men, although they all regard you as adorable? Why don’t you like the splendor of our court? Why to you tear yourself away, loathing the light? Why flee the friendly brilliance, and prefer to bury yourself in lonely darkness? You see nothing that is unfriendly or ill-disposed towards you, and you hold the heart of the king himself.
PEL. This is the very consideration that urges Pelagius to flee.
ZUN. No, you should take advantage of favorable Fortune’s good things instead, and spread your sail to her sweet breezes. You can rise up to heaven thanks to the king’s favor. See what wealth and honors await you!
PEL. A life free of stain, unsullied religion, a chaste mind free of abominable errors, a soul faithful to God and bound for heaven, are more valuable to me than riches or whatever honors the Joves of this earth can heap on me with their liberal hands.
ZUN. You’re playing the part of a Zeno at your age. A beardless boy, you are wholly pretending to be a Cato. Abandon these Socratic postures. A happy face befits a boy, leave austere virtue for gloomy old men.
PEL. Virtue is suitable for any age, but it is no more beautifully fitting for any age than youth. But since you are dealing in unpleasant raillery, Zunelmus, I know they do not come from a sincere mind. For, unless I am mistaken, you too cultivate virtue and love it in others. Take off the mask you’re wearing, witticisms are by no means pleasing to those in misery.
ZUN. My friend, I admit that I too approve of virtue, but I approve of a virtue that is more cheerful and friendly.
PEL. Virtue cannot wear a happy face when it is endangered.
ZUN. Nonetheless, permit me to say that you seemed a little too uncouth towards my father. It would have been proper to endure his friendly advances with a more receptive expression.
PEL. I shall always be possessed of due reverence towards your father, Zunelmus, and grateful affection, as long as he make no improper advances, nor attempt to undermine my faith with sly wheedlings. Otherwise he will find me no less uncouth than a tiger.
ZUN. And yet I fear lest my father’s mind be offended by your unfriendly liberty and make him lash out with savagery. I’m afraid lest you create dire danger for yourself.
PEL. I adjudge that no danger is more to be feared by me than the treacherous deceits of a pleasant false face. Certainly, if some great danger threatens, whatever it is, I credit it all you. Your affection has placed me in these perilous circumstances. It was sincere, perhaps, but it certainly was ill-advised. So if you have any remaining concern for my safety, ask your father to return my person to his cells. You could obtain this, for I imagine he is complaint.
ZUN. Alas, my friend! (Enter Raguel.)
PEL. Raguel is walking this way, Pray allow me to enjoy his conversation. (Exit Zunelmus.)
ACT I, SCENE iii
PEL. How opportunely you come to a person in affliction, Raguel! Alas, the sorrowful turnings of my afflicted lot! Alas, I am wretched, lost, afflicted, and overwhelmed!
RAG. May heaven give you better. I hope that pitiful fates are not oppressing you so greatly. I know about Abderramenus, I have heard of his schemes, nor am I unaware how greatly he is oppressing your tender young faith. Maguedus has described this all to Raguel. But I have not yet heard that you have fallen victim to vice.
PEL. God forbid I ever experience such a scandal!
RAG. So what do you fear?
PEL. I’m afraid of the king and his people. I’m afraid of this very building. I’m afraid of myself and everything. I’m afraid my faith may not remain firm, and totter.
RAG. And so his tgreats terrify your tender young heart? Will you dread death, although it will grant you eternal life for God?
PEL. Oh, would that it would come to death! I would not be a coward and seek any way at all to hide from it. God in heaven can bear witness, my heart is rendered that fearless by this love, and is unmoved by this raging king’s threats. No other things terrify me: I fear unprincipled flattey. I fear the softness of this wanton cult, and excessively protracted delay at this barbaric court. I fear lest my faith gradually fail and that, little by little, the corruption of this sordid sect might attract my mind to depraved habits.
RAG. That fear is wholesome. As long as you fear thus, you will remain free of blemish and sturdy in your faith. God must be earnestly called to your aid, nor should you ever rely on your own powers. You should place your trust in heaven’s help all the more, to the degree that you perceive less support in your own resources. (Enter Abderramenus.)
ACT II, SCENE iv
ABDERRAMENUS, PELAGIUS, RAGUEL
ABD. Gods! What’s this? The boy with this aged fox? Tell me, priest, what brings you here unbidden, or what forwardness has induced you to cross the palace threshold without my knowledge?
RAG. The nature of my personal office, and the care of the boy, long ago entrusted to me.
ABD. You’re acting the part of the careful tutor.
RAG. And of no slothful one, I trust.
ABD. You appear to be nearly a second father to the boy.
RAG. The boy has earned that by his innate goodness.
ABD. With what instruction are you inculcating the boy, pray tell?
RAG. I am teaching him to keep his virtue intact amidst perils, and to maintain a mind free of blemish, and a faith worthy of the Almighty.
ABD. And also to disdain kings.
RAG. Whatever kings are led astray by their blind minds to attack virtue with deceptive arts.
ABD. You rattle on a lot in your boldness, old man.
RAG. I see I have said nothing unfit for good ears.
ABD. Oh, the man’s bold effrontery! That’s good, that’s more than good. By now, enough of your care has been lavished on the boy’s mind. You can go away and find yourself another pupil.
RAG. My sworn faith does not permit that.
ABD. But I command it.
PEL. Alas, king, pray stop. Don’t separate me from my teacher, my single support during my exile,.
RAG. Thus you break your sworn word to Hermogius?
ABD. I have already learned how to keep my word as I should. You must do my bidding, priest, and don’t set foot in my palace again without my permission.
RAG. I hope that someday you will pay the penalty for having held the laws of faith in contempt, since you are an oath-breaker, and that the Spaniard will not let this insult passed unavenged.
ABD. If you want the Spaniard to try his hand at war once again, if his previous defeat wasn’t enough for him, let my blunted steel, which has already once flashed in my hand, be honed to a new edge. Let my fury cry out that my restrained wrath should be renewed. Let all allied Christendom come down on my one person, I, Abderramus, will rouse all Mars on my side once more, I’ll industriously arm my hand with thunderbolts and sate it with a new slaughter.
RAG. The words a boastful tongue is wont to give.
ABD. Such as I have recently given in the valley of Junquera.
RAG. Just as the river Duero recently swelled with Moorish blood, and shook off their barbaric yoke.
ABD. You are lingering overlong, priest. Mindful of my commands, leave here now.
RAG. Farewell, my dear boy. Remember to keep an indomitable heart amidst harsh conditions, and not to be trustful amidst happy ones.
ABD. Away with this idle delays. (Exit Raguel.)
PEL. To what evils you abandon me, father! Alas, let me follow him as he goes.
ABD. Stop — or — soldier — your hand —
ACT II, SCENE v
ABD. Why are averting your face?
PEL. I’m humoring you, you hard man. Now humor me my tears.
ABD. Pray don’t take it amiss, Pelagius, if I treated the old man a little rudely. I won’t make any pretense: although I loathe him, I am steadfast in my love of Pelagius.
PEL. (Aside.) You won’t easily catch me with that shifty deception.
ABD. My zeal for you could not tolerate it otherwise, that that sly trickster should deceive your mind with his crafty wiles, since I know full well he’s striving to fill your mind with vain bugaboos, and has your mind quite filled with error, teaching you to scorn us and our kingdom. You should start being sensible. Reject teachings that are silly, not to mention impious, and, having become wiser, accept the favor fortune offers you.
PEL. Do you think I have such a low-down mind, you tyrant? Since you regard me as low-down (which happens to be my opinion of you), now hear my words in turn. I think you are the kind of man who has the greatest will for extreme sin, but nothing of intelligence.
ABD. I must bear your first fury with patience. Perhaps your wrath will decrease when your sorrow is purged.
PEL. You foolishly weave your wiles in broad daylight, and are blindly inviting the bird to enter a net of which it has already caught sight. Rather let me, a boy, teach you to be wise, or at leas that that you should have been such. You showed me your snake’s tail too soon. Depraved people should keep their schemes concealed a while, and produce their hellish poison with a canny infusion. You ought to have allowed me the use of my ancestral religion for a little while, and not have sprung your depraved counsels on my tender young mind so quickly. Thus, perhaps, thanks to depraved familiarity, a long passage of time, and impure familiarity with your court, in my frailty I could have been seduced, and I could have become gradually attracted to the customs of your foul sect. But now, after your vile scheme has become clear, have no fear, I’ll carefully steer clear of your wiles.
ABD. Why assault my favor with these reproaches? Why does my zeal for you have such ill repute? Give me your hand, at long length enter into my good graces.
PEL. Me clasp hands with you, tyrant? Rather you should invite tigers and timid deer to come to an agreement.
ABD. Set aside the austerity of your ferocious mind, boy. Learn what’s to your advantage, and what’s harmful.
PEL. That’s like having a lamb take instruction on its advantage from a wolf.
ABD. See how I’m conducting myself in gentle, good way. Your reproaches have not aroused me to come down on your head with a well-deserved thunderbolt. You should beware lest you swap a father for a tyrant.
PEL. You could be tyrant, but not a father.
ABD. Don’t prefer my hatred to my love, boy.
PEL. I neither fear your hatred, nor value your love.
ABD. What high spirits for such a little child! They’re not easily overmastered!
PEL. If they could be overcome by you, I admit, they would be puny.
ABD. Be careful not to provoke me too much, boy. Perhaps I’d find a way of overmastering them, and quickly too, and more completely than you’d imagine.
PEL. Your talking in riddles, please explain your threats.
ABD. The sequel will explain them. Meanwhile you should bear in mind what kind of fortune you are rudely refusing, what great honors, what good things of fortune, and the favor of how great a king.
PEL. You’re returning to your vomit. Things repeated so often create nausea. Bear in mind (and let this be said once for all), I regard your favor, your honors, your titles, and you yourself, as well as the way of your unspeakable religious law as one and the same. I detest them all, and think me, as defenseless as I am, to be brighter and better than them all.
ABD. The more I display my love, the more you insult me.
PEL. If Christian law did not forbid feelings of revenge, I myself should take as sword, defend my virtue, and get my own back for the insult of being held in low esteem. Even though I am a boy, I should have no fear to attack a king and a grown man with my steel.
ABD. Congratulations on your spirit, boy. Trust me, you’ll soon have need for high spirits.
PEL. I shall indeed. Have no fear, you’ll take away my life before you rob me of this steadfastness of mind.
ABD. I’ll surely rob you of this accursed plague of your mind.
PEL. No matter how loudly you roar, you’ll never accomplish anything.
ABD. Unwilling though you may be, I’ll make you abjure the unclean name of Christ.
PEL. I should be unworthy of Christ’s revered name, if all the strength of earth and Hell could wrench it from my heart. Bah, how much more could Abderramenus do that, base as he is!
ABD. I neither can nor should put up with your pert tongue any more. I have tolerated your forwardness enough and more, boy. Thus far you have experienced me as a sunny Jove. Now you need to experience me as a Jove hurling thunder and lightning. Take this boy away, soldier, and bring him back when he’s been tamed with your lash.
PEL. Now see how much Abderramenus finally thunders and fulminates. (Exit Pelagius.)
ABD. But you’re wrong, boy, I havent’ begun to thunder yet. This amount of rage is only prelude to that. I’ll soon provide an example of what the anger of an irate king can do. I have not tolerated the reproaches of such a tongue so much as you imagine. You cannot thus cast aspersions at a royal person. At first I wished to dissimulate and give gentle advice. Now you’ll discover that I can rage. I’ll soon see whether your Christ can subdue fury the like of mine. (Enter Zunelmus.)
ZUN. Behold me prostrate at your feet, father.
ABD. Get up. Tell me, son, what it is that you are humbly asking.
ZUN. Father, you see before you a suppliant for his friend. As your son, I beg that your anger spare Pelagius, and that he not be harmed by cruel —
ABD. You are asking this on behalf of an unworthy person. I put up with his unspeakable insults. The punishment I imposed is a trifle, the obstinate boy has earned more, and he’ll soon suffer more if he doesn’t come to his senses.
ZUN. At least grant your son’s entreaties this much, that you spare him a whipping. Let the prison cell take back the boy, and henceforth let the court not hold him against his will.
ABD. What caused you to change your mind, my son? For just now you wanted him to be freed and joined to you as a companion.
ZUN. But I never wanted him to be compelled to abjure his ancestral religion. I admit I had hoped he’d be joined to me as a companion, yet I wanted him to be free and the master of his own fate.
ABD. My counsel is never subject to your standards. Whatever stubborn thing you wish to be swayed, I have decided to break. I have started this work, I must finish it. If I do nothing more, I assuredly want to expunge Christ from his obstinate mind, or plunge him in the Styx. I swear this by the supreme head of Mahomet.
ZUN. I beg you by whatever merits I have accumulated by my dutifulness, and by any care for his son that may have touched his father, do not let this reproach touch me, that Pelagius can blame his death on my affection.
ABD. Spare your father these unwelcome complaints, my son. (Enter Pelagius.)
ZUN. The boy is dragged back here. I can see with what face, with what expression he reacts to the sight of me. Alas, my Pelagius, pardon me if I cannot soften my father’s mind. Pardon your butcher. I confess that I was the cause of your woes —
ABD. What outrage do I see? He’s not in control of his mind, take him away immediately. (Exit Zunelmus.)
ABD. So you finally see I am able to be angry, boy. I only gave you a small example of paternal anger. But, whatever it is, I hope that it bought you back to your senses regarding my goodness and your stubbornness.
PEL. I certainly admit I cannot adequately repay the favor. At length I realize Abderramenus is good and generous to me. For I fancied he was cruel and excessively savage. But, king, by your error you have freed my mind and put me in better expectation. I am blessed even beyond my hopes.
ABD.. I congratulate you on this wholesome change of mind. You increase my happiness.
PEL. Rather, you ought to congratulate yourself. I have experienced no change of mind,. Whatever change there has been is all yours.
ABD. What tangled words you speak! Explain.
PEL. I believe I have made myself plain enough, since previously you were fighting by sly tricks and arts that ill suited your dignity. Now you have become a nobler enemy, for you fight in the open and do not work by fraud. I congratulate you on this transformation, prince. Now I like Abderramenus.
ABD. Is that how you mock my royal person, child? I see you have not suffered sufficient punishment.
PEL. I confess the punishment did not match my desire. You would please me more if you gave me more to suffer.
ABD. Oh you obstinate, mulish, calloused person! You leave no more room for favor. I am forced to abandon my love, albeit against my will, and now it befits me to adopt the severity of a tyrant. Take him, my henchmen, and be quick in handing him over to the executioner. Let the dire wheel tear him asunder, let his limbs be broken. Let a consuming fire slowly cook his guts. Apply every manner of punishment. But keep him alive.
PEL. Be with me now, Christ. Pray grant me courage for the contest. Grant that Pelagius be a soldier worthy to serve under Your command.
ABDERRAMENUS, MESSENGER, LEGATE
MESS. Hermogius’ ambassador requests an audience with you, august prince.
ABD. An ambassador, you say? And from Hermogius too? He’s here as our importunate guest? Bring him here, introduce him into my presence, but bring him by himself. (Exit messenger.) I have a good enough suspicion of what his instructions are. He’s supposed to ask for Pelagius’ return, but I’m determined never to return him, not if the armed youth of Spain should demand him back with their threats. And yet it will be expedient to conceal my intention for a while by some misrepresentation. (Enter the legate.)
LEG. Great greetings, prince. I am sent to you from Hermogius.
ABD. Tell me what instructions and mandate you have, old man.
LEG. The governor is finally repaying you the agreed ransom-price, and at the same time he bids me bring Pelagius home, in accordance with your agreement.
ABD. If this the sole purpose of your embassy, you can go home empty-handed, or give me the gold you brought, if you choose. Let Pelagius be left here with me.
LEG. So, prince, you decline to return the ransomed hostage, as stipulated by your treaty? I request him in accordance with the law of nations and the pledge you have made.
ABD. The law of nations or my pledge do not have the authority to remove Pelagius from my hands. Go, ambassador, and upon your return inform your governor that I am unwilling to expose Pelagius once more to the danger of his native soil, nor would it be safe for a devotee of Mahomet to consort with Christians.
LEG. Pelagius has renounced Christ?
ABD. He prefers Mahomet now that he’s received better instruction.
LEG. An unspeakable scandal! Whatever the case may be, since he is not of legal age, Hermogius demands his return, as does Ordonius in his name. Unless you are willing to return him, you must fear the threats of war and the arms which Spanish fury wields, which are not rashly to be provoked.
ABD. Abderramenus has learned to hold Spanish threats in contempt, and he has learned how to shatter their armed fury, and more than once at that. If they prefer war, he will not be slow in giving it to them. But in the meanwhile you should refrain from doing assault my royal person to my face with your rash threats, ambassador, and you should beat a hasty retreat from my kingdom. Or, I swear by the stars, your dignity as an ambassador will not protect you, nor will the prince whom you represent, from suffering the revenge of an angry king. (Exit Abderramenus.)
LEG. Has Raguel been so negligent as to allow such a scandal? Is this they way he exercises care for the boy entrusted to him? I will immediately go to the old man and make his ears ring with well-deserved reproaches.