Swetnam the Woman Hater – Act Two, scene two

Return to the previous scene

Enter LEONIDA and LORETTA.

LEONIDA
Tell me, Loretta, art thou sure ‘twas he?

LORETTA
Madame, I live not else.

LEONIDA
Thou dost delude
My fears with fond impossibilities.
Prithee resolve me truly; I do long
Most infinitely.

LORETTA
Not a syllable more now,
And it would save your life. Not be believ’d!

LEONIDA
Nay, sweet Loretta. Troth, I do believe thee.

LORETTA
Discredited!
I could fight with any living creature
In this quarrel ‘tis so just.

LEONIDA
Have I deserv’d
No more respect than to be trifled thus?
Come, prithee tell me.

LORETTA
Yes, to delude
Your fears with fond impossibilities!

LEONIDA
Nay, now thou tortur’st me.

LORETTA
Well, I have done.
But leave your sighs, your heigh-ho’s, and ay-me’s,
For I have news will warm you like the sun
And make you open like the marigold.

LEONIDA
Why, now thou ravish’st me.

LORETTA
I heard you not cry out yet.

LEONIDA
Thou takest such a delight in crossing me.

LORETTA
‘Faith, now you talk of crosses! I’ll tell you, you have chosen a husband, so handsome, so complete, as if he had been pick’d out of the Christ-Cross row.

LEONIDA
As how, I prithee?

LORETTA
Why, madam, thus: I’ll begin with A and so proceed to the latter end of the alphabet, comparing his good parts thus: for A, he is amiable, Bountiful, Courteous, Diligent, Eloquent, Faithful, Gracious, Humble, Jovial, Kind, Loving, Magnanimous, Noble, Patient, Quiet, Royal, Secret, Trusty, Vigilant, Witty, and X-ceeding Youthful. Now, for Z, he’s Zealous. So I conclude, pray God he be not jealous!

LEONIDA
An excellent observation.

LORETTA
Who do you think’s in love with you? The old dragon Nicanor that watches the fruit of your Hesperides.

LEONIDA
Oh, that news is stale.

LORETTA
He met me but just now, and would needs know
What return I had made of his adventure.
But I devised such a tale for my old marchant
Able to make a bankrout at report;
But he, notwithstanding, fraughts me again,
With that he was not able, but with this,
This chain of pearl.

LEONIDA
Prithee, away with it. I’ll not be chain’d to him.

LORETTA
Faith, and ‘tis true. A chain is the worst gift a lover can send his mistress. ‘Tis such an emblem of bondage hereafter. Who’s that?

Enter LISANDRO.

LEONIDA
Father.

LISANDRO
How fares my worthy daughter?

LEONIDA
E’en as one
Devoted unto sorrow, grief, and moan.

LISANDRO
Then I must blame you, lady; you do ill
To blast these rosial blossoms. Will you kill
This gift of Nature, beauty in the prime?

LEONIDA
Father, I understand not what you say.
The other day you talk’d of penitence,
Commanded patience, sorrow, and contrition,
As antidotes against the soul’s decay;
And now, methinks, you speak of no such thing.

LISANDRO
Mistake me not, dear daughter. I spake then
Only to mortify the sinful mind,
But now I come with comfort, to restore
Your fainting spirits that were griev’d before.
But, daughter, I must chide you.

LEONIDA
Father, why?

LISANDRO
For your neglect and too much cruelty
To one that dearly loves you.

LEONIDA
Whom, in the name of wonder?

LORETTA
[Aside.] On my life,
This friar’s made an agent in my suit.

LISANDRO
The hope of Sicil, map of true nobility,
Pattern of wisdom, grace, and gravity.

LEONIDA
You praise him highly. Has he ne’er a name?

LISANDRO
Yes, ‘tis my lord Nicanor.

LEONIDA
Oh, is’t he?
His gray head shows his wisdom’s gravity.
And are you made his agent,
His audience, to play the spokesman? Fie!

LISANDRO
Daughter, this is a work of charity,
A holy action to combine in one,
Two different hearts in holy union.

LEONIDA
Friar, no more.
I do not like of these persuasions.
Either y’are not the same you seem to be,
Or all your actions are hypocrisy.
My faith is past already, and my heart
Engag’d unto a far more worthy man.
Lisandro is the prince my love hath won.

LISANDRO
Then here the friar concludes; my task is done.                [Throws off disguise.

LEONIDA
Lisandro, my dear love!

LISANDRO
The same, sweet princess.

LEONIDA
Oh, you were too advent’rous, dearest love.
What made you undertake this hard attempt?

LISANDRO
Your love, sweet lady, that makes all things easy.

LEONIDA
Oh, I am made immortal with thy sight.
Here let me ever live. I fear not now
The worst that fate or malice can afflict.
I have enough, having thy company.

LISANDRO
And when I leave to love you, virtuous madam,
Upon that minute, let me leave to live,
That love and life may both expire together.

LORETTA
Come, leave your prating and protesting,
And get you both in, and be naught awhile.
‘Tis dangerous talking here in public.
Good friar, look my lady die no nun.         [Exit LEONIDA and LISANDRO.
Heighho! Now could I with my sweetheart
Here too. I feel such a tickling somewhere
About me. If he were here now, I would
Never cast such an unwilling denial upon him
As I have done, having so good a president as I have.

Enter SCANFARDO.

But stay, who’s this? As true as I live, ‘tis he!
Oh, sweet rogue, thou art come in the happiest moment.

SCANFARDO
Am I, Loretta? Mass, I like that well.
What, all alone? I like that better too.
But where’s the princess?

LORETTA
Oh, she’s safe enough!

SCANFARDO
Is she indeed? I like that best of all.

LORETTA
And so does she, I warrant ye,
Or any woman else that’s in her case; ha, ha, ha!

SCANFARDO
There’s something in the wind now that you laugh at.

LORETTA
Nothing indeed, sweet love; but ha, ha!
I laugh at an old jest.

SCANFARDO
Come, I must know’t.

LORETTA
‘Deed, but you must not.

SCANFARDO
Why? Dare you not trust me?

LORETTA
Yes, I dare.
But as you are a man, reveal it not.

SCANFARDO
In troth, I’m angry that you should mistrust me.

LORETTA
The Friar, the friar; ha, ha, ha!
He that the lord employ’d to be his agent;
Who do you think it was?

SCANFARDO
Father Anthony, was’t not?

LORETTA
The devil it was! No, faith, it was; ha, ha, ha!
It was no other than Lisandro, Prince of Naples
That stole to my lady in that habit,
And gull’d your lord most palpably!

SCANFARDO
Is’t possible? And where are they now?

LORETTA
Why, faith, th’are e’en at; ha, ha, ha, ha!
But good sweetheart, be silent.

SCANFARDO
Not a syllable, I. It was a bold attempt
Knowing ‘twas death if but discovered once.
But come, sweetheart, we’ll ee’n do
As our betters have done before us.
The example is easily followed,
Having so good a schoolmistress.
Shall we to bed?

LORETTA
Fie, servant, how you talk!
Troth, you are to blame, to offer to assult
The chastity of any gentlewomen
Upon advantage.

SCANFARDO
Pox! Leave this forc’d modesty, for, by this hand,
I must enjoyu you now before we part.

LORETTA
I have so far engag’d myself, you know,
‘Tis now vain to resist.

SCANFARDO
Why, now I like thee well. Where shall we meet?

LORETTA
In the withdrawing chamber; there I lie.

SCANFARDO
Go then; I’ll follow.

LORETTA
I’ll put out the light.

SCANFARDO
No matter, I shall find the way i’th dark.                                           [Exit LORETTA.
Here was a strange discovery but indeed!
What will not women blab to those they love?
I am very loth to leave my sport tonight,
And yet more loth to lose that rich reward
My lord will give for this discovery,
Chiefly to be reveng’d upon his rival.
I’ll not forsake it. Venery is sweet,
But he that hath good store of gold and wealth
May have it at command, and not by stealth.                                                    [Exit.

Proceed to the next scene

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