Act 4, Scene I

Scene: An Antechamber in the Palace.

Enter VALORE and ARRIGO.

Valore.
Is the duke private?
Arrigo.
He is alone; but I think your lordship may enter.
[Exit VALORE.

Enter GONDARINO.

Gondarino.
Who is with the duke?
Arrigo.
The count is new gone in; but the duke will come forth, before you can be weary of waiting.
Gondarino.
I will attend him here.
Arrigo.
I must wait without the door.
[Exit.
Gondarino.
Doth he hope to clear his sister? She will come no more to my house, to laugh at me: I have sent her to an habitation, where, when she shall be seen, it will set a gloss upon her name: Yet, upon my soul, I have bestowed her amongst the purest-hearted creatures of her sex, and the freest from dissimulation; for their deeds are all alike, only they dare speak what the rest think. The women of this age, (if there be any degrees of comparison amongst their sex,) are worse than those of former times; for I have read of women, of that truth, spirit, and constancy, that, were they now living, I should endure to see them: but I fear the writers of the time belied them; for how familiar a thing is it with the poets of our age, to extol their whores (which they call mistresses) with heavenly praises! but, I thank their furies, and their crazed brains, beyond belief! Nay, how many that would fain seem serious, have dedicated grave works to ladies, toothless, hollow-eyed, their hair shedding, purple-faced, their nails apparently coming off, and the bridges of their noses broken down, and have call'd them the choice handy-works of Nature, the patterns of perfection, and the wonderment of women! Our women begin to swarm like bees in summer: As I came hither, there was no pair of stairs, no entry, no lobby, but was pestered with them: Methinks there might be some course taken to destroy them.

Enter ARRIGO, and an old deaf Country Gentlewoman, Suitor to the Duke.

Arrigo.
I do accept your money: Walk here; and when the duke comes out, you shall have fit opportunity to deliver your petition to him.
Gentlewoman.
I thank you heartily. I pray you who's he that walks there?
Arrigo.
A lord, and a soldier, one in good favour with the duke: If you could get him to deliver your petition——
Gentlewoman.
What do you say, sir?
Arrigo.
If you could get him to deliver your pettion for you, or to second you, 'twere sure.
Gentlewoman.
I hope I shall live to requite your kindness.
Arrigo.
You have already.
[Exit.
Gentlewoman.
May it please your lordship——
Gondarino.
No, no.
Gentlewoman.
To consider the estate——
Gondarino.
No.
Gentlewoman.
Of a poor oppressed country gentlewoman.
Gondarino.
No, it doth not please my lordship.
Gentlewoman.
First and foremost, I have had great injury; then I have been brought up to the town three times.
Gondarino.
A pox on him that brought thee to the town!
Gentlewoman.
I thank your good lordship heartily! though I cannot hear well, I know it grieves you: And here we have been delay'd, and sent down again, and fetch'd up again, and sent down again, to my great charge; and now at last they have fetch'd me up, and five of my daughters—
Gondarino.
Enough to damn five worlds!
Gentlewoman.
Handsome young women, though I say it: they are all without; if it please your lordship, I'll call them in.
Gondarino.
Five women! how many of my senses should I have left me then? call in five devils first!
No, I will rather walk with thee alone,
And hear thy tedious tale of injury,
And give thee answers; whisper in thine ear,
And make thee understand through thy French hood;
And all this with tame patience!
Gentlewoman.
I see your lordship does believe that they are without; and I perceive that you are much moved at our injury: Here's a paper will tell you more.
Gondarino.
Away!
Gentlewoman.
It may be you had rather hear me tell it viva voce, as they say.
Gondarino.
Oh, no, no, no, no! I have heard it before.
Gentlewoman.
Then you have heard of enough injury, for a poor gentlewoman to receive.
Gondarino.
Never, never!—But that it troubles my conscience to wish any good to these women, I could afford them to be valiant and able, that it might be no disgrace for a soldier to beat them.
Gentlewoman.
I hope your lordship will deliver my petition to his grace; and you may tell him withal——
Gondarino.
What? I will deliver anything against myself, to be rid on thee.
Gentlewoman.
That yesterday, about three o'clock in the afternoon, I met my adversary.
Gondarino.
Give me thy paper! he can abide no long tales.
Gentlewoman.
'Tis very short, my lord: And I demanding of him—
Gondarino.
I'll tell him that shall serve thy turn.
Gentlewoman.
How?
Gondarino.
I'll tell him that shall serve thy turn: Begone! Man never doth remember how great his offences are, 'till he do meet with one of you, that plagues him for them. Why should women only, above all other creatures that were created for the benefit of man, have the use of speech? or why should any deed of theirs, done by their fleshly appetites, be disgraceful to their owners? Nay, why should not an act done by any beast I keep, against my consent, disparage me as much as that of theirs?
Gondarino. [Going, returns.]
Here's some few angels for your lordship.
Gondarino.
Again? yet more torments?
Gentlewoman.
Indeed you shall have them.
Gondarino.
Keep off!
Gentlewoman.
A small gratuity for your kindness.
Gondarino.
Hold away!
[Throws them on the ground.
Gentlewoman.
Why, then, I thank your lordship! I'll gather them up again; and I'll be sworn it is the first money that was refused since I came to the court.
Gondarino.
What can she devise to say more?
Gentlewoman.
Truly, I would have willingly parted with them to your lordship.
Gondarino.
I believe it, I believe it.
Gentlewoman.
But since it is thus——
Gondarino.
More yet?
Gentlewoman.
I will attend without, and expect an answer.
Gondarino.
Do; begone, and thou shalt expect, and have anything; thou shalt have thy answer from him: and he were best to give thee a good one at first for thy deaf importunity will conquer him too in the end.
Gentlewoman.
God bless your lordship, and all that favour poor distressed country gentlewoman!
[Exit.
Gondarino.
All the diseases of man light upon them that do, and upon me when I do! A week of such days would either make me stark mad, or tame me. Yonder other woman, that I have sure enough, shall answer for thy sins. Dare they incense me still? I'll make them fear as much to be ignorant of me and my moods, as men are to be ignorant of the law they live under.—Who's there? my blood grew cold! I began to fear my suitor's return.—'Tis the Duke.

Enter DUKE and VALORE.

Valore.
I know her chaste, though she be young and free,
And is not of that forced behaviour
That many others are; and that this lord,
Out of the boundless malice to the sex,
Hath thrown this scandal on her.
Gondarino.
Fortune befriended me against my will, with this good old country gentlewoman.—I beseech your grace to view favourably the petition of a wronged gentlewoman.
Duke.  
What, Gondarino, are you become a petitioner for your enemies?
Gondarino.
My lord, they are no enemies of mine: I confess, the better to cover my deeds, which sometimes were loose enough, I pretended it (as it is wisdom to keep close our incontinence); but since you have discovered me, I will no more put on that vizard, but will as freely open all my thoughts to on as to my confessor.
Duke.  
What say you to this?
Valore.
He that confesses he did once dissemble,
I'll never trust his words: Can you imagine
A maid, whose beauty could not suffer her
To live thus long untempted by the noblest,
Richest, and cunning'st masters in that art,
And yet hath ever held a fair repute,
Could in one morning, and by him, be brought
To forget all her virtue, and turn whore?
Gondarino.
I would I had some other talk in hand,
Than to accuse a sister to her brother
Nor do I mean it for a public scandal,
Unless by urging me you make it so.
Duke.  
I will read this at better leisure.—Gondarillo,
Where is the lady?
Valore.
At his house.
Gondarino.
No; she is departed thence.
Valore.
Whither?
Gondarino.
Urge it not thus; or let me be excused,
If what I speak betray her chastity,
And both increase my sorrow, and your own.
Valore.
Fear me not so: If she deserve the fame
Which she hath gotten, I would have it publish'd,
Brand her myself, and whip her through the city!
I wish those of my blood that do offend,
Should be more strictly punish'd than my foes.
Let it be proved!
Duke.  
Gondarino, thou shalt
Prove it, or suffer worse than she should do.
Gondarino.
Then pardon me, if I betray the faults
Of one I love more dearly than myself,
Since, opening hers, I shall betray mine own:
But I will bring you where she now intends
Not to be virtuous. Pride and Wantonness,
That are true friends in deed, though not in show,
Have enter'd on her heart; there she doth bathe,
And sleek her hair, and practise cunning looks,
To entertain me with; and hath her thoughts
As full of lust as ever you did think
Them full of modesty.
Duke.  
Gondarino, lead on we'll follow thee.
[Exeunt.