Juan Ruiz de Alarcón y Mendoza, La verdad sospechosa

The Truth Can’t Be Trusted




Edición filológica utilizada:
Juan Ruiz de Alarcón, The Truth Can’t Be Trusted, edited and translated by Dakin Matthews, New Orleans, University Press of the South, 1998.
Procedencia:
Association for Hispanic Classical Theatre
Edición digital a cargo de:
  • Guinart Palomares, David (Artelope)

List of speakers in this play

Don Beltrán, father of don García
Don García, young man
A Lawyer, guardian of don García
Tristán, servant
Doña Jacinta, dama
Doña Lucrecia, dama
Isabel, criada de Jacinta
Don Juan de Sosa, young man
Don Félix, young man
Don Sancho, Jacinta’s uncle and guardian
Don Juan
Camino, criado

Act I

Scene One: A room in Don Beltrán's house

From one door, enter DON GARCÍA, dressed as a student, and an aged LAWYER, in travelling clothes. From another, DON BELTRÁN and TRISTÁN

BELTRÁN
Welcome, my son—come inside.

GARCÍA
Father, your hand. Dear sir!

BELTRÁN
And how have you been?

GARCÍA
Oh, we're
Parched by the dry summer and fried
5
By its heat. Father, the pain
Was almost too much to bear
Except of course that—always—there
Was the hope of seeing you again.

BELTRÁN
Well, get inside and rest. Go on!
10
God bless you—what a man you've become!
Tristán!

TRISTÁN
Sir?

BELTRÁN
Time to wait on some-
one new; from now on, serve my son
García. You know your way
Around the court, and he
15
Can use a guide.

TRISTÁN
Happy to be
Of any service to him I may.

BELTRÁN
It's not just a servant I'm giving you;
He's been a trusted friend to me.

GARCÍA and TRISTÁN, going in

GARCÍA
And he'll be mine as well, you'll see.

TRISTÁN
20
And your very humble servant, too.

BELTRÁN
So, counselor, let me shake
Your hand.

LAWYER
No, no, let me kiss
Your foot.

BELTRÁN
How've you been? No, this
Is too much. Get up.

LAWYER
For his sake,
25
I've been well, happy, blest;
Your son García's honored me
With so much love, I cannot see
How I can live the rest
Of my life without him.

BELTRÁN
God bless
30
You, counselor; you've always been
A man of great discretion and keen
Appreciation. And I'm no less
Grateful to you that my son
Has done his duty so well by you,
35
Behaved exactly as he ought to do,
And done all he should have done.
I promise you, therefore, my friend,
My gratitude to you is such,
That I have done for you as much
40
As I can to help you ascend
To the post of Magistrate. Not as high
As my love would raise you, if it could.
If I had the power, you know I would
Make you a cabinet minister.

LAWYER
I
45
Have no doubts about your power.

BELTRÁN
And for good reason, sir. But still
Of one thing I am sure. You will,
Once you have placed, with our
Help, your foot upon the low-
50
est rung, climb higher and higher,
Without our help—even aspire
To the Supreme Court.

LAWYER
I know,
Wherever I am, and however I
Get there, I shall always be
55
Yours.

BELTRÁN
Then, before you turn over to me,
Counselor, the helm of my
García's ship, and leave me to steer
The rest of his course, I ask
You to do just one more task,
60
For my sake and for his.

LAWYER
My dear
Sir, a pleasure. No sooner heard
Than done—whatever you ask me to do.

BELTRÁN
First I want you to swear that you
Will do whatever I say. Your word?

LAWYER
65
Sir, I swear by the Lord on high
To do whatever you ask me to.

BELTRÁN
Then I've only one question to put to you,
But I want the truth and not a lie.
I always thought that leaving here
70
To study law—as you must know—
Was the best preparation for him to grow
Up in the world with a fine career.
He's my second son, you see,
And for such a one, the law's
75
Almost a sure thing, because
It's the door to opportunity.
But now that God has deigned to take
My firstborn Gabriel from me,
Leaving García with my legacy,
80
There's a change or two I need to make.
I have decided it's time to bring
Him back to Madrid, time to end
His legal studies, so he can spend
His days—it's the customary thing—
85
Among the aristocracy
Of Spain. Each noble house takes care,
And for good reason, to place an heir
In the service of his majesty.
So now García, for all intents,
90
Is his own man, his school days are gone,
He has his business to carry on,
Although at my expense.
Now, my son may not be in the first
Rank, I know, but as a loving father,
95
I'd like him to be well thought of, rather
Than as one of the worst.
And therefore, counselor, the only thing
I want from you is the simple truth,
Without flattery—what kind of youth
100
Has he been? You helped to bring
Him up. What do you think of his
Manners, his personality,
His character? Any flaws that he
Seems to favor? Any vices? Is
105
There some behavior I should know
About—to help him change it? Believe me
My friend, you couldn't grieve me
In the least by telling me so.
He has to have some faults, I know,
110
And I won't exactly be overjoyed
To know them, but perhaps I can avoid
Worse harm, by hearing about them now,
However distasteful that may be.
There's no better way to show your love
115
For him or give a demonstration of
Your loyalty to the family,
Than to tell me all the bad news now,
Now while I still can help my son,
Not later, after the damage is done,
120
When I'm bound to find out anyhow.

LAWYER
Great sir, I assure you there was no need
For such a strict injunction.
I know my duty here—my function
Is to obey, not yours to plead.
125
It's an open and shut case:
I mean, when a man buys a horse,
The trainer, as a matter of course,
The one who supposedly broke him, has
A duty to disclose as much as he can
130
Of the horse's quirks, otherwise
There'll be a rather unpleasant surprise,
Both for the animal and for the man.
Telling the truth's the right thing to do.
And truth is what I've vowed to give,
135
Though sometimes truth's a purgative
Which can make you gag as it heals you.
Your son García, in all that he
Performs, has a certain flair
That perfectly suits the son and heir
140
Of such a noble family.
He's generous and bold,
He's witty, wise, articulate,
Open, devout, and temperate
Usually, though not yet old
145
Enough to avoid the impatience
Of youth. Such high spirits as
All boys have, García has,
So mentioning them makes little sense.
But there is one tiny fault, just one,
150
That I have noted—indeed that I
Have warned him of, and unfortunately,
So far nothing seems to get done
About it.

BELTRÁN
Is it likely to
Affect his standing here?

LAWYER
Could be.

BELTRÁN
155
What is it then? Be honest with me.

LAWYER
Well, the things he says aren't always true.

BELTRÁN
Good God, but that's a terrible thing
For a man in his position.

LAWYER
It's just a temporary condition,
160
I think, a bad habit. You can bring
The full weight of your authority
To bear on him, and that, along
With his growing good sense, will be strong
Enough to root out this fault, you'll see.
165
It's just a phase he's going through.

BELTRÁN
If nothing could be done when he
Was pliable and easy to be
Straightened out, what can we do
When the sapling becomes a tree?

LAWYER
170
Sir, those were Salamanca days.
Boys will be boys, sir; play's
The only thing they know. They're free
To follow their every whim. They give
Vice the name of virtue, call
175
Mischief manners, and folly's all
The grace they want—the prerogative
Of youth. But here in the court, sir, we
Have better hopes for his reformation,
For here he has for his edification
180
So many models of nobility.

BELTRÁN
It almost makes me laugh to see
How ignorant you are of the way
Things work at court. Are you trying to say
That he couldn't learn mendacity
185
At court? Don't you realize
That if he were at the top of his game,
He'd lose daily to some men I could name—
Even with a lead of a thousand lies.
Here in Madrid, some politicians
190
Of power and wealth, deceive and conceal
To close a lucrative real estate deal
Or improve their social positions.
If that is so, is it not even worse
In one who is placed, so to speak,
195
As a mirror where people should seek—
Let's drop it—before I start to curse.
A bull that's stuck by an expert blow,
Lashes out at whoever's nearby
Without even bothering to try
200
To find the picador, and so
Do I, overwhelmed with grief
At this latest news, and blind
With tears, I strike at the first man I find,
To give my rage some relief.
205
Believe me, if he threw away
My entire estate blindly pursu-
ing love affairs, or gambled through
Every night and every day,
If he were reckless, restless, and inclined
210
To pick a fight at the least provocation,
Or married far below his station,
If he were to die, I still would find
The strength to bear these things and control
My grief. But to know he was a liar! Oh,
215
What a horrible fault! It's so
Repugnant to my very soul.
All right, then, I know what I have to do:
Before the bad news gets around,
I've got to move quickly till I've found
220
Someone to marry him to.
Well, counselor, I'm in your debt,
You've certainly given me evidence
Of your zeal and your intelligence.
Much obliged. Now when do you have to get
225
Going?

LAWYER
Well, I was thinking of
Leaving right away.

BELTRÁN
That can't be.
Come rest a while, and then go see
The sights at court.

LAWYER
I'd really love
To spend some time with you, but I—
230
Well, duty calls. New job, you know.

BELTRÁN
Of course, a man can never go
Fast enough when he's moving up. Goodbye.

BELTRÁN goes out

LAWYER
And God go with you, too. I see
My news has really hurt the kind
235
Old man. So—even the wisest find
No sweetness in adversity.

The LAWYER goes out

Scene Two: On Silver Street

Enter GARCÍA, handsomely dressed, and TRISTÁN

GARCÍA
So what do you think? Do you like my coat?

TRISTÁN
It's absolutely divine, sir. Such
Brilliant people those Dutch
240
To invent this frou-frou surrounding the throat.
With an acre of linen like that, who knows
What horrors may lurk beneath every pleat!
I once knew a lady whose heart skipped a beat
When a certain friend, in frills just like those,
245
Came walking in her direction.
But once by mistake she happened to see
His actual neck, with the upshot that she
Was obliged to renounce her affection.
For his neck was furrowed and greasy,
250
The ravages of a previous bout
Of scrofula, no doubt,
For his skin was yellow and cheesy.
To twice normal size his nose had grown,
And each ear was as big as my fist,
255
And his jowls and chin, all shriveled and twist-
ed, were those of an ancient crone.
In short, this gentlemen of worth
Was so little like he appeared to be,
That no one would ever have known it was he,
260
Not even his mother who gave him birth.

GARCÍA
Well, that's, for one thing, why I'd feel
Overjoyed if our country had
A law prohibiting such a stupid fad
As a collar shaped like a water-wheel.
265
Besides encouraging such deceit,
These foreigners steal our good Spanish dollars
For their ridiculous linen collars,
And make the damage to us complete.
If we ever adopted a nice
270
Simple collar, we'd quickly see
The face set off to advantage, and be
Just as attractive, at a much lower price.
And a man wouldn't walk around all distressed
About the condition of his ruff,
275
And worry if he was wearing enough
Protection to keep it from getting messed.

TRISTÁN
I once knew a man who had an inkling
He was loved by a beautiful lady;
But at every approach the lady made, he
280
Backed off to keep his ruff from wrinkling.
That's why I'm so bewildered by it:
Everyone claims they would love with a passion
For the simple collar to come back in fashion,
But no one'll be the first to try it.

GARCÍA
285
We can't rule the world—so leave
It be. How are the women here?

TRISTÁN
So—forget the world, instead we're
Going to rule the flesh—and you believe
That's easier?

GARCÍA
More fun, anyway.

TRISTÁN
290
Are you "in the mood"?

GARCÍA
I'm "in my prime."

TRISTÁN
Then you've come to Madrid at just the right time.
Here love never takes a holiday.
Beautiful women are permanent
Fixtures here. Against the fine
295
Background of the court, they glitter and shine
Like the brightest stars in the firmament.
Some more brightly than others, it seems,
For they can all be classified,
By magnitude, brilliance and by how wide-
300
ly they spread their glorious beams.
Of course, among all these I'm not
Including the great ladies of the land,
They are angels of pure spirit and
Are untouchable, even in thought.
305
I'm only talking about the ones
With souls a bit more inclin-
ing, blessedly human, yet divine,
Dazzling, corruptible, heavenly suns.
The sky is full of them. Let me scan it
310
For you. There's the beautiful wife
Who lives an easy, approachable life
With discretion. I call her a planet.
A woman like this, in conjunction
With a husband who's easy going,
315
Is likely to shed her rays all a-glowing
On perfect strangers, with little compunction.
Then there are others, whose justification
Is that their husbands have gone away,
To the Americas, some of them say,
320
Or to Italy on vacation.
You can't always trust women like these,
There are thousands sly enough to pretend
They are married, so they can spend
Their lives as they like, in comparative ease.
325
You'll meet the occasional gorgeous trainee
Under the wing of a beautiful mother,
The girl's a fixed star, while the other
Moves in an orbit a bit more free.
And then of course there's a multitude
330
Of classy working girls—you know—
Who rank in my heaven, as courtesans go,
As stars of a lesser magnitude.
Right behind them are many more
Working girls in training, less
335
Luminous perhaps, I must confess,
But better than a whore;
Third magnitude stars, not as bright,
Certainly, as a pro should be,
But in cases of necessity,
340
You can bathe quite nicely in their light.
Now the common whore, in her condition,
I don't really rank as a star,
More like a comet, because they are
Quite dim, and their tails keep changing position.
345
They rise in the dawn to demand their pay,
And once that ceremony's done,
The very next moment they're completely gone,
And you don't see them for the rest of the day.
Then there are talented amateurs,
350
Ready for all occasions, they last
For a while, then burn out fast,
I think of them as meteors.
The problem here, my boy, if you
Were thinking of reaching for this kind of star—
355
They're very unstable, won't stay where they are,
Not for all the gold in Peru.
And always be mindful, as I always am,
That in the zodiac, Capricorn's
Not the only sign that wears the horns,
360
There's also the Bull and the Ram,
But there's only one Virgin. And in
Conclusion, as sure as death and taxes,
Money's the solitary axis
Around which all these bright stars spin.

GARCÍA
365
You sound like some kind of expert to me
On heavenly bodies.

TRISTÁN
While I was hang-
ing around the court, ang-
ling for jobs, I studied astronomy.

GARCÍA
You hung around the court? Well, I'm
370
Surprised.

TRISTÁN
And I'm embarrassed about
The whole thing.

GARCÍA
But why a servant?

TRISTÁN
I ran out
Of money and luck at the same time.
Not that serving you isn't the fin-
est fortune a man like me
375
Could wish for.

GARCÍA
Forget the flattery,
Get a glimpse of that hand, what a divine
Whiteness, pure ivory! And of
Those eyes, whose beams are shafts of light,
Arrows that carry in their flight,
380
Twin poisons of death and love.

TRISTÁN
You mean that lady over there
In the coach?

GARCÍA
Of course! Do you see
Another that shines as brightly as she?

TRISTÁN
I've never seen anything to compare.
385
Hers is a coach fit for the sun,
With all its little satellites,
Its fiery rays and golden lights
Illuminating everyone.

GARCÍA
This is the first woman I've seen
390
Here, and she sets my heart aglow.

TRISTÁN
The first? In all the world?

GARCÍA
No.
The first in paradise. She's the queen
Of heaven, the woman's divine!

TRISTÁN
Around here every minute you're likely to see
395
A beautiful woman. You'll never be
Willing or able, my boy, to confine
Yourself to one. I could never stand fast.
I just couldn't be constant in love or desire,
The next girl I saw always set me on fire,
400
And made me forget the last.

GARCÍA
Where is the brightness that surpasses
The blazing eyes of my shining star?

TRISTÁN
Things always look better than they are,
When you look at them through love-tinted glasses.

GARCÍA
405
Do you know her, Tristán?

TRISTÁN
Oh no, that girl'd
Never know me. She's divine—you won't
Find her with humans. Goddesses don't
Come down to live in Tristán's world.

GARCÍA
Whoever she is, I'm in love with her.
410
That's that, and I long to be her slave.
Tristán, go after her!

TRISTÁN
Wait, sir, they've
Gotten out at the shop.

GARCÍA
I'd sure
Like to go over. Or does that sound
Too gauche for Madrid?

TRISTÁN
No, no, not too.
415
Just remember what I said to you:
Money makes the world go round.

GARCÍA
I have some gold.

TRISTÁN
Well, onward, Spain!
God be with you, sir—and Caesar, too!
Just don't forget what I said to you
420
About pretty girls. Let me make it plain.
You see that other girl, behind her?
Just coming out? Maybe she's the sun
And the other's just the dawn, that one.
Or vice-versa. Just a reminder.

GARCÍA
425
She's pretty.

TRISTÁN
And the maid? Less beaut-
iful than her mistress? No.

GARCÍA
I swear, that coach is Cupid's bow
And all three are arrows well worth the shoot.
I'm going over.

TRISTÁN
Don't forget the old
430
Proverb.

GARCÍA
Which is?

TRISTÁN
The quickest road to
A woman's heart runs directly through
Your bank.

GARCÍA
Here's another: in gold
We trust.

TRISTÁN
Then talk to her; I'll go see
If I can get the coachman to spill
435
The beans about who they are.

GARCÍA
Think he will?

TRISTÁN
Dear boy, he's a coachman, isn't he?

They separate. Doña JACINTA, Doña LUCRECIA, and ISABEL enter, in mantillas. Doña JACINTA stumbles and falls, and Don GARCÍA comes over to help her up

JACINTA
Lord, help me!

GARCÍA
Your servant implores
That his hand may be of assistance to you,
If you think him a worthy Atlas to
440
Support a heaven as beautiful as yours.

JACINTA
You'd have to be Atlas if you claim
You're touching heaven with your hand.

GARCÍA
To touch hands, yes, is one thing, and
To deserve that touch, not quite the same.
445
What victory comes with the touch of beauty—
Even one for which I have yearned—
If that touch is not so much earned
From you, as owed you by my duty.
A touch, freely given, is so much sweeter.
450
Look, I have heaven at my fingertips,
What glory's in that, if it's she that slips,
Not I that rise to meet her?

JACINTA
And what exactly is the height
You would attain?

GARCÍA
As high as I can.

JACINTA
455
But to reach a goal without a plan—
Wouldn't that be pure luck?

GARCÍA
You're right.

JACINTA
Then how can you complain to me
About how short of your goal you are?
Since you haven't deserved to get this far,
460
You're already luckier than you ought to be.

GARCÍA
According to moral philosophy,
An act of favor or benevolence
Is only valid when the will consents;
Otherwise it's worthless, you see?
465
The fact that I am holding your hand
Does not mean you are favoring me,
Because the intentionality
Of the will is missing. You understand?
Therefore I have the right to feel
470
Unlucky in my luck, to touch
The hand but not the heart, so much
Like favor, but without the will.

JACINTA
So much like talk, but without the sense.
How can you know what's going on
475
In my heart; you don't even know your own.
You accuse me unjustly of some offense.

TRISTÁN
Aside to GARCÍA
(I told you he was a coachman, sir.
I've got some news about who they are.)

GARCÍA
And have you never seen thus far
480
Clear signs of what my intentions were?

JACINTA
I've never even seen you here.

GARCÍA
She hasn't even noticed me!
My God—I've been in agony
Over you—for more than a year!

TRISTÁN
485
(A year? He just walked in the door
Yesterday! )

JACINTA
Oh, good Lord!
More than a year? I give you my word
I never saw you in my life before.

GARCÍA
When I sailed from America
490
To seek my fortunes here,
The heaven of your face, my dear,
Was the very first thing I saw.
And at that instant my soul did melt
Into yours, and yet, you never knew,
495
I had no chance to talk to you
And tell you what I felt.

JACINTA
You're American?

GARCÍA
With money to spare.
And yet one glance from these your eyes,
And all my goldmines I despise,
500
And leave my El Dorado there.

TRISTÁN
(He's American? )

JACINTA
I've heard them say
That rich men are stingy—are you?

GARCÍA
And they also say that misers who
Fall in love give it all away.

JACINTA
505
Then if what you say is true,
I can expect some expensive gifts?

GARCÍA
What good is my money unless it lifts
My credit with someone like you?
And yet such gifts would only be
510
Trinkets. To gain your love
I'd fashion for you a world of
Pure gold, to show my idolatry.
And even that could never aspire
To outweigh one petal of your beauty's flower,
515
As my enormous wealth and power
Could never equal my desire.
And yet, from this little jewelry store,
I beg you take anything you will,
As a small token of how I feel.

JACINTA
520
(I never saw such a man before. )
To Doña LUCRECIA
Lucrecia, what do you think? He's quite
Generous, this American.

LUCRECIA
I think you rather like the man,
Jacinta, and I think you're right.

GARCÍA
525
Here's the shopwindow, look around,
Pick out what you like—my treat, as I said.

TRISTÁN
TRISTÁN and GARCÍA aside
(Sir, you're way in over your head. )

GARCÍA
(Tristán, I have already drowned. )

ISABEL
ISABEL speaks aside to the ladies
(Here comes Don Juan. )

JACINTA
I'm very grate-
530
ful, sir, for your kind offer—

GARCÍA
But
You simply can't accept it. What
A shame. Madam, I'm desolate.

JACINTA
Then I'm afraid you have mistaken your
Position, sir, and overstepped
535
The bounds of courtesy. I can accept
The offer alone—and no more.

GARCÍA
But you have my heart, and what have I
In return for what I have conferred?

JACINTA
You have the pleasure of being heard.

GARCÍA
540
Which I cherish.

JACINTA
Then good-bye.

GARCÍA
Good-bye.
And give me leave, before you depart
To love you.

JACINTA
I don't believe
A man ever needs to ask for leave
Before he gives away his heart.

The LADIES leave

GARCÍA
545
Go after them!

TRISTÁN
Don't worry your head
About it, sir. I don't need to go
Find out where your lady-love lives, I know
Already.

GARCÍA
Oh. Then stay here instead.
You never want to importune a
550
Girl too much. She'll get annoyed with you.

TRISTÁN
"The more beautiful lady of the two
Is Doña Lucrecia de Luna.
She's my mistress. And as for this
Second lady, with whom she came,
555
I know her house but not her name,
And I can show you where it is."
Thus saith the coachman, sir.

GARCÍA
If Lucrecia's prettier, then she
Must be the one who spoke to me.
560
And I'm in love with her.
And as the sun, with each new day,
Dims every little star, I find
That she, in her brightness, makes me blind,
And all the others fade away.

TRISTÁN
565
To me, she that never spoke a word
Was the prettier of the two.

GARCÍA
Well, you've got terrible taste.

TRISTÁN
It's true,
I don't expect my vote to be heard.
But nonetheless, I still prefer
570
The quiet one, if only for this,
The less she talks the more she is,
In my opinion, prettier.
But on the off-chance, sir, that you
Might be mistaken, wait right here,
575
And I'll go ask the coachman there
To tell me who is who.

GARCÍA
And Lucrecia, did he say where
She lived?

TRISTÁN
Where was that? Let me see—
In the square by Our Lady of Victory.

GARCÍA
580
She is the moon that governs there,
Eclipsing all stars else. How fit
A name is Victory Square!

Enter Don JUAN DE SOSA and Don FÉLIX, in conversation

JUAN DE SOSA
Dinner and music—that isn't fair!

GARCÍA
That's Don Juan de Sosa, isn't it?

TRISTÁN
585
The very same.

JUAN DE SOSA
Some lover, no doubt
Who thinks himself lucky. Who can it be
That stirs me to such jealousy?

FÉLIX
It shouldn't take too long to find out—
I'm sure of that.

JUAN DE SOSA
She's to be my bride,
590
I've chosen her, and now I discover
Some other man woos her as a lover
With a meal and music by the riverside.

GARCÍA
Don Juan de Sosa!

JUAN DE SOSA
Who is that?

GARCÍA
It's Don García—remember me?

JUAN DE SOSA
595
But you're in Madrid unexpectedly.
I didn't recognize you in that—hat.

GARCÍA
It was in Salamanca that we
Last met. I've changed since you saw me there.

JUAN DE SOSA
You're definitely not the student you were.
600
You've become a man of the world, I see.
Are you here in Madrid to stay?

GARCÍA
Oh, yes!

JUAN DE SOSA
Well, welcome home then!

GARCÍA
And you, Don Félix, how have you been?

FÉLIX
Now that you're here, I'd have to say
605
I couldn't be happier. Welcome! You're well?

GARCÍA
And at your service, my friend—so
What were you talking about? May I know?

JUAN DE SOSA
Some gossip going round. I'll tell
You what it was. Last night, someone
610
Was down by the river, with a band
Of musicians, a lady, and
A fancy dinner.

GARCÍA
Music, Don Juan?
And a fancy meal?

JUAN DE SOSA
Yes.

GARCÍA
Yesterday?
A big to do?

JUAN DE SOSA
Yes. So I hear.

GARCÍA
615
And the lady, how did she appear?

JUAN DE SOSA
Absolutely stunning—they say.

GARCÍA
Ah, well.

JUAN DE SOSA
So, what's the mystery?

GARCÍA
Well, if the lady and the food
Were as lovely and as good
620
As you report them, then possibly
It is my lady and my feast
You're praising so.

JUAN DE SOSA
You mean you threw
A party last night—by the river? You?

GARCÍA
All night—till the sun rose in the east.

TRISTÁN
625
(What lady? What feast could that have been?
You only got here yesterday. )

JUAN DE SOSA
You've feasted a woman already, you say?
But you only just got in!
Love works very fast with you, I see.

GARCÍA
630
It hasn't been that short a while;
I've been home a whole month resting.

TRISTÁN
(I'll
Swear—it was yesterday that he
Got home. What is he thinking? )

JUAN DE SOSA
If I
Had known, I'd have been there
635
To welcome you back, I swear,
And pay my debt of courtesy.

GARCÍA
Well, actually, I snuck into Madrid.

JUAN DE SOSA
Then, obviously, that's the reason why
I didn't know. But satisfy
640
My curiosity; this dinner you did—
Was it really so grand?

GARCÍA
I'd venture to guess
It's the best that river has ever had.

JUAN DE SOSA
Aside
(I'm so jealous I may go mad! )
Well, then, you might as well confess
645
It was you in the thicket with mademoiselle.

GARCÍA
Don Juan, you lead me to suspect—
From your tone of voice and your grim aspect—
That the lady is known to you as well.

JUAN DE SOSA
I'm not entirely in the dark
650
About the whole affair, but I
Have it second-hand, confusedly;
I'd love to hear what went on in the park—
The whole truth, direct from you,
Just out of curiosity,
655
You know, a courtier like me—
I've got nothing better to do—
(Than roast in the flames of my jealousy. )

FÉLIX
Aside to Don JUAN DE SOSA
(The heavens are kind, and even without
Your asking, see how they go about
660
To reveal your rival's identity. )

GARCÍA
All right, here goes, lend me an ear:
And all you desire I shall provide:
The story of the Feast by the Riverside.

JUAN DE SOSA
There's nothing we would rather hear.

GARCÍA
665
There in a thicket, deep and dark, amid
The high and overshadowing elms was hid
A secret clearing, black as the face of night,
In which there stood a table, clean and bright,
A perfect square, set with the elegance
670
Of an Italian hand, and the opulence
Of Spain. There in the fine embroidery
Of tablecloth and napkins one could see
A thousand gorgeous birds and beasts that lacked
But souls to be alive. All set and stacked,
675
Four sideboards ran along each length, each one
Laden with crystal cups and porcelain
Bowls, silver plates and gold. One tree there
Was left untouched, it seemed; the others were
Stripped of their branches, and of them they
680
Had built six grand pavilions. Hidden away
In four of them were different orchestras;
Arranged inside the fifth pavilion was
A vast display of entrees, of every kind;
Inside the sixth, desserts and fresh fruits lined
685
The walls, and among the pastries and preserves
Were plates of appetizers and hors d'oeuvres.
The coach arrived, and out she stepped,
My lady-love, and all stars else, except
Her eyes, were dimmed with envy—while the brook
690
Babbled with joy at catching just one look
From her, and the air inhaled her sweet perfume.
Her lovely footfall made the grasses bloom
Where'er it touched, with emeralds; each curl
Of wave, a crystal; each grain of sand, a pearl.
695
And suddenly there was a bright confusion
Of roman candles, pinwheels in profusion,
Fireworks exploding everywhere, rockets fly-
ing through the air, turning the evening sky
To day, and flaming still higher and higher
700
Till all this patch of earth became pure fire.
And then, just as the fireworks dispersed
And faded, twenty four bright torches burst
Into flame, dimming both the stars and moon.
At once, a woodwind band struck up a tune
705
From one of the pavilions; hearing the sound,
The strings, from their pavilion, passed it round
To the third, where flutes picked up the melody
And added their sweet notes to the harmony.
Then from the fourth pavilion, came the rich
710
Sounds of a four-part choir, under which
Spanish guitars and harps were softly strumming,
To celebrate in song my lady's coming.
And as they played, the waiters served the food—
Thirty two courses for the main meal—and a good
715
Three dozen more of appetizers and
Hors d'oeuvres before the meal, with a grand
Assortment of desserts and fruits for later.
The freshfruits, juices, wines, even the water
Were served in frosty crystal bowls and glasses,
720
All made of ice, and covered over with masses
Of winter snow, so artfully preserved,
The wandering river thought that it had swerved
Out of the grove and somehow found the freez-
ing heights and passes of the Pyranees.
725
And as the tongue delighted in the taste
Of pleasure, the nose was no less busy. Graced
With soothing fragrances of potpourri
And perfume—flowers, herbs, and spicery
Distilled to sweet aromas—what had been
730
A grove became a heaven of muscadine.
And in the center of the table stood
A holder full of toothpicks, not of wood
But of pure gold, the holder itself the figure
Of a man, diamond studded and no bigger
735
Than this, a dying man shot through and through
With golden arrows, which showed to her the true
Picture of her own cruelty to me,
And in that figure, my fidelity.
These golden toothpicks took from willow, reed,
740
And straw their proper office; for gold indeed
Must be the toothpicks when the teeth are pearl.
And as I feasted there this lovely girl,
Musicians hidden in their separate bowers
Played melodies to slow the morning hours,
745
To stop the stars and halt the heavenly sphere—
But that Apollo, envious to hear
Music more sweet than his, raced in the east
And brought the dawn to end our loving feast.

JUAN DE SOSA
You've painted such a picture of last night,
750
My friend, with such detail and in such bright
Colors that I could not be sure, I swear,
If I was hearing it—or actually there.

TRISTÁN
(The devil bless him for his only son!
Father of lies! How otherwise could one
755
So improvise a tale of a fictitious meal
That out-truths truth and out-reals real! )

JUAN DE SOSA
Don FÉLIX and Don JUAN DE SOSA aside
(I'm mad with jealousy! )

FÉLIX
(We never heard
Such things about this party. It's absurd! )

JUAN DE SOSA
(The details are of no importance to me—
760
The time, the place, the substance all agree. )

GARCÍA
What did you say?

JUAN DE SOSA
We said such banqueting
As yours is greater far than anything
Great Alexander did when he held sway.

GARCÍA
Oh, that? No—that was simply child's play,
765
Done on a moment's notice. Given some time,
Even a day for preparation, I'm
Sure I could throw a party that would shame
The ancient Greek and Roman feasts, bring fame
To me through all the world, beyond our nation,
770
And be the cause of newfound admiration.

FÉLIX
Don JUAN DE SOSA and Don FÉLIX aside
(Look at Lucrecia's coach—that girl, the one
By the step's Jacinta! )

JUAN DE SOSA
(And look at Don
García's eyes—they're following every move
She makes, I swear to God! )

FÉLIX
(Look how his love
775
Makes him so restless and distracted! )

JUAN DE SOSA
(SeeEsta intervención de don Juan de Sosa no está marcada como aparte por el traductor, pero el sentido nos ha llevado a incluirla en el aparte anterior.
How all he does confirms my jealousy! )

JUAN and GARCÍA
Good-bye!

FÉLIX
(And see how well you synchronize,
In perfect unison, your swift goodbyes! )

Don JUAN DE SOSA and FÉLIX leave

TRISTÁN
I've never seen two gentlemen agree
780
To say good-bye with such velocity!

GARCÍA
She is my heaven, the prime mover of
My every act, the north star of my love,
Which draws me like a magnet to her side.

TRISTÁN
Well then, you must be patient, sir, and hide
785
Your love. Revealing it is likelier
To fail than to succeed with one like her.
Believe me, sir, it's my experience
That fortune favors men who have the sense
Not to respond. For women, sir, and devils
790
Use very similar ways to work their evils.
The souls they have already, they ignore—
The don't tempt them, they don't go hunting for
The already damned. For once they have them in
Their claws, they can forget them, and begin
795
Pursuing with a vengeance, night and day,
Only the ones they fear might get away.

GARCÍA
You're right, I know—I'm just not master of
Myself today.

TRISTÁN
This woman that you love—
Until you actually know who she is
800
And what she has, don't get mixed up in this.
Remember, sir, to look before you leap,
Or you'll end up, over your head, in deep
Water. Not everything that's green is grass;
Jump in, and you could sink in a morass.

GARCÍA
805
Go find out all you can immediately.

TRISTÁN
I'll take good care of it—leave it to me.
And now for God's sake, tell me something, sir,
Before I burst. What in heaven's name were
Those stories for, that I was hearing? I ask
810
Only that I might help you in your task—
Whatever that might be! If we get caught
Lying, the shame and the disgrace are not
Going to go away. So why did you
Tell all the ladies you were from Peru?

GARCÍA
815
Because, Tristán, the fact is foreign men
Do well with Spanish ladies, especially when
They come here from America, which is,
To women here, always a sign of riches.

TRISTÁN
I understand that that's what you intend,
820
But, sir, those means won't lead you to that end.
Eventually the ladies have to know
Exactly who you are.

GARCÍA
Till when, I'll go
And be received into the inmost parts
Of both the ladies' houses and their hearts,
825
And once inside—thanks to this strategem—
I'm pretty sure that I can manage them.

TRISTÁN
All right, you've won me over, sir; but now,
I pray, explain that other business, how
You've been here for a month, and not yet seen
830
At court or in the town? In fact, you've been
At home since yesterday. So what's the plan?

GARCÍA
Surely you know, there's nothing grander than
A man who's travelling incognito, or
Who hides himself away behind the door
835
Of his great house, or else retires to
Some tiny village, out of public view.

TRISTÁN
You win again, sir! And the fancy meal?

GARCÍA
I made that up, because I just can't deal
With people who are trying to discover
840
If I have feelings that I just can't cover—
Like envy or amazement. Some things can
Make me feel that way—I'm just a man—
I have these feelings, they embarrass me.
Amazement, after all, is just stupidity,
845
And envy, a disgrace. You'll never know
How satisfying it can be, to show
Another person up, who comes to tell
Some news, bursting with pride, about some swell
Party he's given or some big thing he's done,
850
By topping his tale with a bigger one;
Before he gets it out, you tell yours first
And stuff it down his throat and make him burst.

TRISTÁN
A very tricky move of self-defence, sir—
A dangerous feint, for even a master fencer.
855
You'll be a joke at court, quite soon enough,
The moment that those people call your bluff.

GARCÍA
A man's life needs a little stimulation;
If all he does is swell the population,
And act like everybody else, then how
860
Is he any better than a horse or cow?
It's a wondrous thing to be a famous man,
Worth striving for by any means he can.
In every street they're whispering my name,
And everyone will know about my fame.
865
Just like that man in Ephesus, when he
Burnt down a church to become a celebrity.
And here's my best—and final—reason, too:
It's something that I really love to do.

TRISTÁN
Well, those are very youngish thoughts, I fear;
870
And your ideas, much too advanced for here.
So what you need to do is keep a lid
On thoughts like those, to make it in Madrid.

They go out

Scene Three: A room in Don Sancho's house

Enter Doña JACINTA and ISABEL, in mantillas, with Don BELTRÁN and Don SANCHO

JACINTA
You're very kind!

BELTRÁN
This isn't all
Some friendship of a single day;
875
Our families have been this way
For quite some time, if you recall.
That's why I'm sure my little visit
Is not so unexpected.

JACINTA
If I
Seem shocked, dear sir, it's only my
880
Surprise; it's not that often, is it,
That you come to see us? Pardon me.
If I had known who my uncle was with,
I wouldn't have lingered with the silversmith,
Haggling over some jewelry.

BELTRÁN
885
That was an omen, a favorable one,
For what I have in mind: for you'll
Be purchasing a priceless jewel,
If I can persuade you to marry my son.
Your uncle Sancho and I have been
890
Discussing the possibility
Of elevating our intimacy
Into kinship. And both of us are in
Agreement (once we have subjected
It to your approval, as he
895
Quite properly reminded me)
That this should be effected.
Now surely there can be no doubt
Of the value of my son's legacy,
So there's just his personality
900
For you to be concerned about.
And though the boy just got to Madrid
From Salamanca yesterday,
And got a sunburn on the way
(Something that jealous Phoebus did),
905
I'll take the chance, and gladly put
Him right where you can look him over,
Since I'm so sure that, as a lover,
You'll find him pleasing—from head to foot—
If you will only grant that he
910
May come to pay you his respects.

JACINTA
What you present me with, affects
Me so, that praising it would be
Presumptuous and impolite.
Your offer means so much to me
915
I'd say yes now, but unfortunately,
I just don't feel it would be right
To give anyone the wrong impression
(Whatever the gain might be for us)
That I was rash or frivolous,
920
Which any woman of discretion
Must avoid. To rush ahead
In matters so weighty would only befit
A woman with a tiny wit
Or an enormous need to be wed.
925
Also, it might be more discrete,
So as not to compromise anyone—
And if you agree—to see your son
As he passed by in the street.
It does happen once in a while—
930
Actually, fairly frequently—
That such an engagement might just be
Dissolved, after a term of trial.
And how would it reflect on me?
What's more compromising than
935
To have been visited by a man
With almost a husband's intimacy?

BELTRÁN
You have a wonderful sense of duty,
And if my son should marry you
I'd count him lucky for that gift, too—
940
As well as for your beauty.

SANCHO
My little niece is the mirror where
Prudence itself may see her face.

BELTRÁN
You've captured her undeniable grace
In a perfect image there.
945
Don García and I will ride
On horseback along the avenue
This very afternoon.

JACINTA
If you do,
I'll be at the window, looking outside.

BELTRÁN
I beg you, then, to take a good view,
950
For I shall return this very night,
Beautiful Jacinta, if I might,
To ask how he appeared to you.

JACINTA
So soon?

BELTRÁN
No need to wonder at how
Strongly I feel. By God's holy name,
955
If I was fond of you when I came,
I'm completely in love with you now.
Goodbye.

JACINTA
Goodbye.

BELTRÁN
Sir, I can find
My own way out.

SANCHO
No, please, I'll go.

BELTRÁN
Don't bother.

SANCHO
At least let me show
960
You into the hall—if you don't mind.

SANCHO and BELTRÁN go out

ISABEL
The old man's really rushing you.

JACINTA
I should be rushing myself much more,
Because this match is perfect for
My honor—but I have to do
965
What my love advises me to.
My poor Don Juan, the master of
My every thought, will probably
Not get promoted, which will be
The end of our marriage plans—but I love
970
Him so—he is so forcefully
Fixed in my heart—that though I would
Have every right to entertain
Other proposals, I never could
Discard his love. I tremble with pain
975
When I think of yielding my maidenhood
To some other man in marriage.

ISABEL
I thought
Perhaps you had already forgot-
ten him, when I saw you receiv-
ing other men.

JACINTA
No, don't deceive
980
Yourself, Isabel. But though I'm not
Forgetting him, I have to get on
With my life. My father's permission
To marry him depends upon
His receiving his commission,
985
Which he won't, so my hopes in him are gone.
I'm getting back in society;
It's either that or death for me—
And why pursue an impossible plan?
I don't approve—a woman can
990
Perish of too much constancy.
Somewhere out there, perhaps I will
Find another, as worthy of
My hand, and maybe of my love.

ISABEL
Time will all your hopes fulfill,
995
As sure as there are stars above.
In fact, unless I am deceived,
You found the American you received
Today quite charming.

JACINTA
I'll tell you the truth,
I was quite taken with that youth—
1000
More than I ever would have believed
Possible. So much, in fact, that I'd
Be willing to say, all jesting aside,
That if this son of Don Beltrán
Is as handsome a gentleman
1005
And as smart, he can have me as his bride.

ISABEL
This afternoon, you'll be able to see
Him, with his father, riding by.

JACINTA
His face and his figure, yes, but I
Need to know his mind—to me
1010
That's more important. I'm afraid that we
Will have to talk.

ISABEL
To talk?

JACINTA
Which would
Offend Don Juan, if he found out;
And I'd rather not lose him if I could,
At least until I'm sure about
1015
Having to marry the other.

ISABEL
Then you should
Do something! Anything! Time flies,
You know, and you should be wise
Enough to avoid the real danger
Of losing both. Don Juan, in my eyes,
1020
Is just playing the dog in the manger.
You can talk to the son of Don Beltrán
If you really want to, without Don Juan
Finding out. For years, women like you,
In cases like these, have found some plan
1025
They could always use. And you can, too.

JACINTA
I'm thinking of one right now that might
Just work. I'll ask Lucrecia—she's
A friend of mine—if she'll invite
Him over on her behalf; and while he's
1030
There talking, I'll be out of sight
Behind the curtains. That might just be
A real possibility.

ISABEL
It's perfect! It's an inspiration!
Only from an imagination
1035
Like yours could it come!

JACINTA
Then instantly
Go over to Lucrecia's house and say
Exactly what I have in mind.

ISABEL
I shall fly with the wings of the wind!

JACINTA
And tell her even a moment's delay
1040
Will be a century. On your way!

Don JUAN DE SOSA enters and meets ISABEL going out

JUAN DE SOSA
Your lady—may I speak with her?

ISABEL
A minute, maybe—the hour's near
When my master usually comes here
To take her into dinner, sir.

ISABEL goes out

JUAN DE SOSA
1045
So, Jacinta, now I've lost you,
I've lost myself, now you've lost me—

JACINTA
Are you insane?

JUAN DE SOSA
Who wouldn't be,
When you behave the way you do?

JACINTA
Behave yourself! And quiet down—
1050
My uncle's somewhere in the hall.

JUAN DE SOSA
And did you worry about him at all,
When you dined by the river at the edge of town?

JACINTA
You're not yourself—what is all this?

JUAN DE SOSA
When another man spends the night with you,
1055
What do you expect me to do—
Be as blind as your uncle is?

JACINTA
Spends the night! Watch what you say!
Even if the story were true
It would still be presumptuous of you
1060
To talk to me in such a way.
How much more so, when the whole idea
Is a figment of your fantasy.

JUAN DE SOSA
I know all about your riverside spree,
And I know your host was Don García,
1065
And about all the fireworks burning bright,
The moment little Jacinta drove
Up, and the torches that turned the grove
Into day, in the middle of the night;
And the tables piled higher and higher
1070
With silver service on every side,
And the four pavilions occupied
By orchestras and a four-part choir—
I know it all, dear enemy,
And how the sunrise found you there;
1075
So tell me now that the whole affair
Is a figment of my fantasy;
And tell me I'm presumptuous
To talk to you of these vile events,
When your perfidy and my offense
1080
Deserve to be made notorious.

JACINTA
I swear to God—

JUAN DE SOSA
Please, no more lies!
Don't even bother speaking to me;
A proven offense can never be
Excused. Oh, now I realize
1085
The truth—oh false one! —now I see—
I've lost you, yes, but my discontent
Is not from my disillusionment,
But the shame of your inconstancy.
And even if my lady denies
1090
The story I heard, she cannot say
I did not see what I saw today—
The truth in Don García's eyes.
And what of his father? What did he
Want here? Explain that one!
1095
You spend the whole night with the son,
And the day with his father? I see!
I see it all! Don't lie to me
To win me back. I know your ways—
They're all in vain. And your delays
1100
Are born of your inconstancy.
O cruel one! In heaven's name,
May you never have a moment's rest!
And may this volcano in my breast
Explode and roast you in its flame!
1105
Jealousy! O, may the author of
My pain lose you as I have done!

JACINTA
Are you all right?

JUAN DE SOSA
All right? Can one
Be sane, and hopelessly in love?

JACINTA
Come back, listen—the truth must be
1110
Believed. Soon you will see how bad
The information is you've had.

JUAN DE SOSA
I'm going—your uncle mustn't see
Me here.

JACINTA
He's nowhere near. I swear
I can change your mind.

JUAN DE SOSA
The only way
1115
Is to promise to marry me.

JACINTA
Today?
I think my uncle's right out there.

END of ACT ONE

Act II

Scene One: A room in Don Beltrán's house

Don GARCÍA enters in a robe, reading, accompanied by TRISTÁN and CAMINO. Don GARCÍA reads

GARCÍA
"It is the urgency of the matter that forces me beyond the proprieties of my station. What it is, you may discover tonight, at a balcony which the bearer of this note will reveal to you, along with other things I dare not put in writing, May the Lord protect and, etc."
To CAMINO
Who wrote this note to me, d'you know?

CAMINO
Doña Lucrecia is her name.

GARCÍA
De Luna? She whom I proclaim
1120
My very heart, beating so
Proudly in my breast! She,
That queen of beauty, whose lovely feet
Tripped today down Silver Street
Before noon!

CAMINO
Yes.

GARCÍA
My destiny!
1125
My joy, my life, my own!
Tell me all her qualities—
Quickly!

CAMINO
I'm amazed that these
Great gifts of hers are still unknown
To you. You've seen her, you needn't be told
1130
About her beauty—I'll skip that part.
She's virtuous, she's very smart,
Her father's widowed, and very old,
And has a vast estate, I hear—
A thousand ducats, maybe two,
1135
Which she'll inherit.

GARCÍA
Tristán, did you
Hear that?

TRISTÁN
Without a single tear.

CAMINO
As far as her rank of nobility—
What can I say? Luna's her father's
Name, and Mendoza, her mother's—
1140
Both solid gold in pedigree.
Doña Lucrecia—to put it plain—
Deserves to marry only with kings.

GARCÍA
Cupid, I pray, lend me your wings
To mount such heights and there remain.
1145
Where does she live?

CAMINO
Victory Square.

GARCÍA
My goal is clear, and you the guide,
It tells me here, to lead me inside
The glorious heaven that awaits me there.

CAMINO
I'll show you the way to both places, then.

GARCÍA
1150
For which I'll thank you, with all my might.

CAMINO
I will return later tonight
To accompany you, at the stroke of ten.

GARCÍA
And tell Lucrecia my reply
To her request.

CAMINO
Yes, sir. God bless.

CAMINO goes out

GARCÍA
1155
I'm in heaven! What happiness!
What love! What a fortunate man am I!
Remember, Tristán, the coachman said
Lucrecia was the prettier—
And that's the one I love, I'm sure!
1160
And surely she has forwarded
This letter to me! Don't you see?

TRISTÁN
I think you're reaching for it, sir.

GARCÍA
Don't be silly—of course, it's her—
Why would the other one write to me?

TRISTÁN
1165
Well, the worst thing that can happen to you
Tonight, I suppose, is having your
Doubts removed. You'll know for sure
Who the lady is you're talking to.

GARCÍA
I know I won't be led astray.
1170
My sense still holds the memory of
That sweet soprano voice I love,
Whose music slew my soul today.

A PAGE comes in, with a note

PAGE
Don García? Sir! That
Is for you.

GARCÍA
As you were—
1175
Relax.

PAGE
Your servant, sir.

GARCÍA
For heaven's sake, put on your hat!
He reads, to himself
"I wish to set the matter straight
About some important things.
Come alone. When the bell rings
1180
Seven. At St. Blaise. I shall wait.
Don Juan de Sosa." (Damn! Good Heaven!
What can it be? He doesn't say.
But I only got here yesterday,
And he's a friend of mine.)
To the PAGE
At seven,
1185
You may say, I will not fail
To meet with him.

The PAGE goes out

TRISTÁN
Hello? Sir?
Don García? What is it? You're
Looking extremely pale.

GARCÍA
Nothing at all.

TRISTÁN
No problems?

GARCÍA
None.

TRISTÁN
1190
Aside
(This is serious—I can tell.)

GARCÍA
Fetch me my cape—and my sword as well.
TRISTÁN goes out
But what could I have possibly done?

Don BELTRÁN comes in

BELTRÁN
García?

GARCÍA
Father?

BELTRÁN
We're going to
Take a little horseback ride
1195
Today—there's a certain matter I'd
Like to talk over with you.

GARCÍA
Aside
(Another one? Now what?)

TRISTÁN returns and starts to dress Don GARCÍA

BELTRÁN
Now where
Are you off to? It's blazing hot
Out there.

GARCÍA
Just next door; I thought
1200
I'd shoot a little pool over there
With our neighbor, the count.

BELTRÁN
Well, don't
Dash about so much. I don't approve—
You just got in. There're thousands of
People yet to meet—you won't
1205
Be able to do it in a single day.
And when you do, I'd prefer it if you
Carefully considered two
Conditions: when you gamble, play
With what you have, and before you air
1210
An opinion, think twice. It's the only way
I know to be happy.

GARCÍA
I'll do what you say—
You're right.

BELTRÁN
Now go on out there
And make sure the stableboys get
The horses saddled and ready by
1215
Four.

GARCÍA
I'll see to it.

BELTRÁN
Good-bye.
Don GARCÍA goes out
I'm still more than a little upset
Over what his tutor said.
Tristán—how much time would you say
You spent with him?

TRISTÁN
The entire day.

BELTRÁN
1220
Forget that he's my son. Instead,
Remember only the loyalty
That I have always found in you,
And which I'm sure is still there, too.
What is he like?—be honest with me.

TRISTÁN
1225
I really couldn't say—there's been
So little time to judge him by.

BELTRÁN
Your tongue's not usually this shy—
There's been plenty of time to judge him in,
More than enough, I'd say, for one
1230
As smart as you. For my life's sake,
Don't spare me—tell me.

TRISTÁN
What I make
Of him, sir, is this. You see, your son—
And I'm only telling you the truth
For your life's sake—that's what you swore—

BELTRÁN
1235
You've always done me right before,
And earned my favor so.

TRISTÁN
It's his youth—
He's got a great imagination,
A wonderful sense of fine detail,
But a young man's fancy can sometimes fail
1240
Through rashness or over-compensation.
Salamanca was his nurse,
He needs to be weaned away from the taste
For sophomoric pranks, and placed
Where that crowd can't infect him. Nothing's worse
1245
Than the habits picked up in college. This
Wild talk, this lying without
Caution or sense, this boasting about
Everything, this compulsion of his
To risk it all! I heard him today,
1250
In one hour, tell six or seven lies!

BELTRÁN
God help me!

TRISTÁN
Here's the big surprise—
You haven't heard the worst news—they
Were such terrible lies, he could have been caught
In any one of them.

BELTRÁN
Good Lord!

TRISTÁN
1255
I'd never have said a single word
To hurt you, sir, if you had not
Commanded me.

BELTRÁN
I know too well
Your loyalty and love for me.

TRISTÁN
Then, sir, forgive my temerity
1260
If I remind you not to tell
Your son. Don García must never hear
That I mentioned it. Surely you see
The risk I run.

BELTRÁN
Put your trust in me,
Tristán, and put away all fear.
1265
Go out and order them to prepare
Our horses.
TRISTÁN goes out
O God in Heaven!
Well, since it is your will, Lord, even
This must make sense somehow—somewhere!
For the balance of my time on earth, late
1270
In my sad life, my only consolation
Is my one son, my only relation—
And God burdens me with this—counterweight!
Ah well, it was ever thus—old men
Are forever disappointed in
1275
Their sons. And ills have always been
Worst in the eldest. Patience, then!
I'll try to bring this marriage plan
To a swift conclusion today;
And with a little speed I may
1280
Just mend this fault—if I can
Do it before the court starts taking
Notice of his instability
Which would pretty effectively
Block any marriage worth the making.
1285
With any luck, his new position
As a married man might just be
The very motivation that he
Needs, to reform his vile condition.
For it's useless to think that constant correction,
1290
Advice, rebuke, or disapproval
Would ever bring about the removal
Of such an ingrained predilection.

TRISTÁN comes back in

TRISTÁN
The horses are ready, waiting for
Your command to go, each one
1295
Testing its iron shoes upon
The cobblestones of the courtyard floor.
Your dappled stallion, eager to advance
At the head of the parade, re-learns
All by himself the twists and turns
1300
And intricate steps of his dance.
Behind him, the bay, proudly daring
To match her rider in reputation,
Studies with renewed dedication
Her motions and her equine bearing.

BELTRÁN
1305
Go tell García—hurry him on.

TRISTÁN
Your son awaits you—so gallantly,
That all the court will think that he,
Even at this hour, brings a new dawn.

They go out

Scene Two: A room in Don Sancho's house

Enter Doña JACINTA and ISABEL

ISABEL
I told Lucrecia, ma'am, and she
1310
Grabbed for her pen and immediately
Started to put your brilliant plan
Into action. The son of Don Beltrán
This night beneath her balcony
Will wait. "An urgent matter," she wrote,
1315
"We must discuss tonight." Close quote.
There you can chat with him—he must
Obey. Camino carried the note,
And he's a person you can trust.

JACINTA
Lucrecia's so obliging to me!

ISABEL
1320
At every opportunity
She shows herself a perfect friend.

JACINTA
Is it late?

ISABEL
It's five.

JACINTA
Will it never end—
This worry? Even asleep, the memory
Distresses me of my poor Don Juan;
1325
During my nap, I dreamt that he
Was all consumed with jealousy
Of another suitor!

They look out the window

ISABEL
It's Don Beltrán!
And with him—ay!—your Peruvian!

JACINTA
What are you talking about?

ISABEL
That man
1330
You spoke with today, on Silver Street,
He's riding alongside Don Beltrán—
See for yourself!

JACINTA
My God, that can-
not be—you're right—it's him! That cheat!
That fraud! That liar! Why would he
1335
Pretend to be an American
When he's the son of Don Beltrán?

ISABEL
Because money will always be
Crucial to any engagement plan.
Money played an important part
1340
In gaining access to your heart—
He thought. He must imagine this is
At least the likeliest way to start—
As Midas, rather than Narcissus.

JACINTA
So when he said it was last year when
1345
He first saw me—he was lying again!
I clearly heard his father say
He just arrived in Madrid today
From Salamanca.

ISABEL
But then—
To put it in the best possible light,
1350
It could be true, lady, you know.
He might have seen you a year ago,
Then left Madrid, and then he might
Have returned from Salamanca last night.
And if he didn't, what's the surprise
1355
If someone who's desirous of
Gaining favor in a lady's eyes,
And giving credit to his love,
Strengthens his gifts with a couple of lies?
What's more, I'm pretty sure he's not
1360
Indulging in hyperbole
For nothing. Trust me. García got
His father here as speedily
As if he took a bow and shot
Him over to talk with you. Can't be a
1365
Coincidence. To see you and say
He loves you, and then that very day
His father's here with the bright idea
Of having you marry his son Garc´a.

JACINTA
You're right—but still I would have thought
1370
The time between when he saw me
And when his father came, and brought
These wedding plans of his, was not
Long enough.

ISABEL
But it was, if he
Knew who you were all the time, then met
1375
His father on Silver Street, who knew
You as well, and was not unaware of who
Your family was, and they talked, and he let
Him know how much he felt for you,
And he—since he adored his son—
1380
And rightly so—moved fast.

JACINTA
What will be
Will be. The boy's a handsome one,
His father's crazy about me, and he
Desires me. Consider the marriage done.

They go out

Scene Three: Atocha Boulevard

Enter Don BELTRÁN and Don GARCÍA

BELTRÁN
What are you thinking about?

GARCÍA
That this
1385
Is the finest horse I've ever seen.

BELTRÁN
A beautiful beast.

GARCÍA
How well she's been
Trained, and how sharp her spirit is!
So mild, yet so magnificent!

BELTRÁN
Your brother Gabriel, may he rest
1390
In peace, thought her the best;
She was his joy, his sole content.

GARCÍA
So now, sir, that we've found our way
To the hermitage on this lonely hill,
What did you want? What's your will?

BELTRÁN
1395
What's my pain, you ought to say.
Are you a gentleman, García?

GARCÍA
I've always thought I was your son.

BELTRÁN
I see, just being a son of mine
Is all you need to make you one?

GARCÍA
1400
Well, yes, father, I think it is.

BELTRÁN
Well, that's a really dumb idea!
Because you have to act like one,
To be a gentleman, Garc´a.
How do you think the noblest houses
1405
Started? The founders made a name
For themselves by their noble deeds.
They had no ancestry to claim;
These lowborn men had but their acts
With which to honor their progeny.
1410
It's acting well or ill that makes
You good or bad. Now do you see
What I'm telling you?

GARCÍA
I don't deny
That noble deeds can make a man
Noble, but I will also say
1415
If deeds don't do it, then birth can.

BELTRÁN
But if a man of lowly birth
Can gain nobility, then is
The opposite not true as well—
May not the high born man lose his?

GARCÍA
1420
That's also true.

BELTRÁN
So then if you
Perform disgraceful acts, you can—
Even though you are my son—
Fail to be a gentleman.
And if your every action was
1425
A scandal to society,
My coat of arms would count for nothing,
As would your noble ancestry.
What is all this I hear with my
Own ears—that all your lies and all
1430
Your stories have become the wonder
Of Salamanca? And you call
Yourself a gentleman! You're nothing!
To call any man a liar—this
Alone is enough to ruin him—
1435
Tell me what being a liar is!
If in the world's eyes, I were
A man without honor, as long
As people said I was a liar,
I wouldn't leave the house. How strong
1440
And tough your heart must be, or else
How long the sword you bear, that you
Think you can walk around with all
The town calling you what they do!
How can such a man exist,
1445
With thoughts so base and so inane,
To enslave himself to such a vice
That yields him neither joy nor gain!
At least the lecher has the lure
Of seeking sexual satisfaction;
1450
The miser has the comfort of
His money's power and attraction;
The glutton has his feasts to please
His palate; the gambler has the thrill
Of play and hope of winning big
1455
To keep him coming back; the kill-
er satisfies his blood revenge;
The thief enjoys the haul he's made;
Even a quarrelsome man may gain
A reputation with his blade.
1460
So every vice, in short, can yield
Some pleasure or some benefit—
Except for lying. What does it bring
But infamy and scorn with it?

GARCÍA
Whoever says that I tell lies
1465
Is just a. . . liar!

BELTRÁN
And once again
You lie. That's all you know, even to
Defend yourself—you lie, and then
You lie again.

GARCÍA
But if you won't
Believe in me—

BELTRÁN
Believe in what?
1470
That you tell truth and all the town
Tells lies? Am I an idiot?
What matters now is that you give
The lie to your defamers by
Your actions. It's a whole new world;
1475
Speak little and speak true. A high
And saintly king lives here—for all
To see; you cannot use some fault
Of his to excuse your own. And here
You deal with all the most exalt-
1480
ed peers of Spain, with gentlemen
And lords, who if they ever find
Your weakness out, will never give
You their respect. Must I remind
You more? You're all grown up, you wear
1485
A beard upon your chin and a sharp sword
At your side, you're nobly born, and I'm
Your father—that's my final word;
I've nothing more to say; I hope
A simple reprimand will be
1490
Enough for one of your high rank
And mental ingenuity.
And now, just so you understand
How much I've been upset and harried
About your welfare, you should know
1495
I'm working to get you nobly married.

GARCÍA
Aside
(Ay! My Lucrecia!)

BELTRÁN
Never before
My son, has heaven deigned to place
Such heavenly beauties, such divine
Endowments in a human face
1500
As in Jacinta, daughter of
Don Fernando Pacheco—she
From whom I look to have some fine
Grandchildren in my seniority.

GARCÍA
Aside
(Ay, my Lucrecia! Can it be?
1505
You are the only mistress of
My heart!)

BELTRÁN
What's this? No answer?

GARCÍA
(Yours
I must be, by heaven, my love!)

BELTRÁN
Now what are you so sad about?
Speak up—don't keep me in suspense.

GARCÍA
1510
I'm sad because I find I can-
not give you my obedience.

BELTRÁN
But why?

GARCÍA
Because I am already married.

BELTRÁN
You're married! How can this be?
My God! And I not know it?

GARCÍA
Well,
1515
I had to marry—and secretly.

BELTRÁN
Was ever father so disgraced!

GARCÍA
Don't be distressed, for once you un-
derstand the cause, dear father, you
Will find the result a happy one.

BELTRÁN
1520
My life hangs by a slender thread—
Get to the point—and speedily.

GARCÍA
Aside
(Come on, imagination, lend
Me now your finest subtlety. )
To BELTRÁN
There lives in Salamanca, sir,
1525
A gentleman of noble fame
And family. His forbears were
Herreras, Don Pedro is his name.
Heaven has given him a daughter,
A second heaven, with suns for eyes
1530
And cheeks as rosy as the water
On the horizon at sunrise.
To keep it brief, I'll say this much
Only, no more: that Nature, sir,
Took every blessing fit for such
1535
A young age, and gave them all to her.
But Fortune, when she sees some one
So blest, is Nature's enemy,
And to oppose what Nature had done,
Gave her the gift of poverty.
1540
Moreover, though her family
Was far less rich than noble, there
Were three in line for the legacy,
Two brothers born ahead of her.
I saw her in her coach one night,
1545
Riding toward the river. If on-
ly it were Italy, it might
Have been the coach of Phaëton—
But it was Spain. Who ever said
That Cupid's shafts were tipped with flame?
1550
What I felt then was ice instead—
A chill that pierced me all the same.
Why do we think of them as hot—
These passions and these feelings, if
Under their spell the soul is caught
1555
And held, the body frozen stiff?
In brief, I had to see her there,
And seeing her, love had to make
Me blind, I had to follow her,
I was so rapt; and it would take
1560
A heart of bronze to judge me for't.
By day I walked her street, by night
Lived at her gate. I had resort
To go-betweens and notes. I'd write
Her of my passion, till at last
1565
From pity or affection, she
Responded; for Love's laws bind fast
Even among divinity.
The more affection that I showed
To her, the more she did requite
1570
It—till at last on me she bestowed
The heaven of her room one night.
And as my burning passions, restrain-
ing all my scruples, sought to ease
My aching heart's enormous pain
1575
And find with her, love's sweet release,
I heard her father coming to
Her room. What called him there?—it was
Not something that he used to do;
What was it? It was Fortune cross-
1580
ing me that night. Alarmed, but bold—
Oh woman!—she pushed my almost dead
Body, unmoving, frozen, cold,
Behind the curtains of her bed.
In came Don Pedro, and she to hide
1585
Her face, now drained of color, flung
Her arms about him, and bravely tried
To feign delight even as she clung
To him. They sat together, side
By side, and he explained how she
1590
Might benefit by being allied
To the Monroyes family
By marriage. She, with equal parts
Of candor and of caution, said
Enough to comfort both our hearts—
1595
For I could hear her from the bed.
The two said their goodnights, and then
Just as her father headed out
Her bedroom door, the moment when
The old man's foot was just about
1600
To cross her threshold—cursèd be
The inventor of—damned and amen!—
The chiming pocket-watch! You see,
Mine began striking midnight then.
Don Pedro heard it, turned and said,
1605
"What is a watch doing over there?"
"That watch? why, it was forwarded
To me," she answered, "for repair—
By Don Diego Ponce, my
Cousin, you know, because out where
1610
He lives, he says, there's a scant supply
Of watches and watchmakers there."
"Give it to me," her father said,
"And I'll take care of it." She came
Running quite swiftly toward the bed—
1615
Did Sancha—that was my lady's name—
To fetch the watch away from me,
And prevent her father from doing so,
Before it simultaneously
Came into his head that he should go.
1620
I reached for it, and was about
To hand it over, when once again
Chance intervened. As I pulled it out,
My pistol tangled in the chain—
I had the pistol out, you see—
1625
The chain caught in the trigger, the gun
Fired as the hammer fell, and she
Fell, too, at the sound; this seemed to stun
The old man, he began to roar;
And I seeing these sunlike eyes
1630
Eclipsed, heav'n fall'n to the floor,
Was sure that she, my life, my prize,
The goal of all my actions, lay dead—
A victim of the atrocity
Committed by those balls of lead
1635
That flew at her so suddenly
Out of my pistol's mouth. In rage,
Racked with despair, I drew my blade;
I was prepared now to engage
A thousand men. His two sons stayed
1640
Me from escaping—they were twin
Brave lions, armed, and with them stood
An army of their servants in
The hall, opposing me. I could
Have whipped them all—quite easily—
1645
So sharp were both my fury and my blade—
But human strength can never be
Victorious, once Fate has made
Its dire decree. For just as I
Was fighting past them coming in,
1650
My swordbelt was entangled by
A metal hook—it must have been
The knocker on the bedroom door!
I'd have to turn my back to free
Myself, and be a target for
1655
Their wall of swords. That instant she—
My Sancha—woke, regained her sense,
And fearing what the end might be
Of this unfortunate turn of events,
She pulled so mightily on me
1660
And pushed so hard upon the door,
That in I tumbled, sword and all,
Safe in her room, and what is more,
She locked my enemies in the hall.
We both piled up a barricade
1665
Of bureaus, chests, and trunks to bar
The door—hoping that wrath delayed
Might be some remedy. But far
More strength we would have needed, for
My foes, in fury, tore right through
1670
The bedroom wall, and knocked the door
Clean off its iron hinges, too.
Now seeing that however much
I might delay it, nothing could
Prevent my foes from exacting such
1675
A punishment as honor would
Demand of me, and seeing at
My side, beautiful Sancha, the love-
ly partner of my Fate, and that
Terror had plucked the roses of
1680
Her cheeks, and seeing how through no
Fault of her own she tossed with me
Upon the storm of Chance, and blow
For blow did fight with Destiny—
So to reward her loyalty,
1685
To spare her any further dread,
To escape a certain death for me,
And kill all further conflict dead,
I had no choice, sir, but to yield—
And ask whether this bloody fray
1690
Between us might not best be healed
By union of our bloods that day.
They saw the risk of continuing,
And knew quite well my quality,
And after a little squabbling
1695
Among themselves, agreed with me.
Her father brought the Bishop the news
And then returned victorious
With his permission for us to use
Any priest at all to marry us.
1700
So that was done, and mortal war
Concluded in the sweetest peace,
And you have gained a daughter-in-law
Unmatched on earth, or the seven seas.
And yet we all agreed that you
1705
Should not be told of it. For your
Assent had not been given; then too,
There was the fact that she was poor.
But now at last you have to know—
Then tell me, would you have it so?
1710
Which would be better—to have me dead
Or living, and so nobly wed?

BELTRÁN
From what you say, I'm satisfied
That overpowering Fate or Chance
Has destined her to be your bride—
1715
So much is clear from the circumstance.
And so the only fault you bear
Is in not telling me.

GARCÍA
That I
Might grieve you, sir, was all my fear—
Enough to silence me.

BELTRÁN
And why,
1720
If she's so noble, should I care
If she is poor? The worst thing is—
Of which you seem quite unaware—
That I must now return with this
News to Jacinta, to whom I have
1725
Given my word. Look at the bind
You put me in! All right, we'll save
A longer talk for later; we'll find
Some time tonight. Ride home at once;
Go on, we can discuss it there.

BELTRÁN goes out

GARCÍA
1730
I go, in all obedience;
I'll be just in time for evening prayer.
Well, that went well. The old man went
Away convinced of everything
I said! So lies will never bring
1735
A person profit or content?
Says who? I'm obviously elated
To see him swallow all I said,
And clearly I have profited
By fleeing a marriage which I hated.
1740
That was a wonder to behold!
He bawls me out for telling lies,
And then immediately he buys
The biggest lie I ever told.
It's really quite a simple feat
1745
To persuade someone who wants to be;
And they're deceived quite easily
Who are unpracticed in deceit.
But now—Don Juan is waiting for me!
Calls off
Hey there! My horse! I've witnessed some
1750
Amazing things, and they have come
So hard and fast I think I must be
Crazy. I'm here one day, and see!—
In just an instant, I'm in love,
Engaged to be married, and the rival of
1755
Someone who wants to challenge me.

Don JUAN DE SOSA comes in

JUAN DE SOSA
So, Don García, you have been
As good as your word.

GARCÍA
Who could know
My breeding and think I would be so
Base-hearted as to fail? Let's begin,
1760
Don Juan—what is the cause, my friend,
For which you call me here? What wrong
Have I done you? Come, sir, I long
To know. Why must our friendship end
In a deadly duel? Come, sir, confide.

JUAN DE SOSA
1765
She is the cause, that lady who—
If what you told me, still holds true—
Dined with you by the riverside
Last night. She is the reason why
I suffer, she whom two years ago
1770
I made my fiancée, and, though
Our marriage is delayed, whom I
Intend to wed. You have been here
A month, and though you may have been
The whole time barricaded in
1775
Your house, hidden from me, it's clear
You must have known—so publicly
Have I expressed to her my love,
You could not have been ignorant of
My intentions—and so offended me.
1780
And now that I have said my piece,
I have just one more thing to say,
And it is this: either today
You stop pursuing her, and cease
All contact, for she's the goal I've fol-
1785
lowed all these years—or if you feel
That my request is groundless, we'll
Decide it with swords—winner take all.

GARCÍA
It grieves me, sir, that you could be
So ill informed in all you say,
1790
That you could call me out today
To this place, just to fight with me.
The lady by the riverside,
By Heaven, Hell, and Earth between,
Is someone you have never seen,
1795
Nor could she ever be your bride.
The woman's married, she got to Madrid
Only a while ago, Don Juan;
I know for sure, if anyone
Has seen her, it's me—you never did.
1800
And once she goes, I've no desire
To see her again, as I hope to live,
Nor ever will, on this I give
You my solemn word—or call me a liar!

JUAN DE SOSA
What you have told me puts an end
1805
To all suspicion, and the rage inside
My heart is calmed. I am satisfied.

GARCÍA
Well, I'm not satisfied, my friend!
You called me here, you challenged me;
Since that is so, my honor's still
1810
In question. Of your own free will
You did it, I'm not so easily
Put off. I'm no longer free
To go—for here I must remain,
Be true to what I am, and gain
1815
Either my death or victory.

JUAN DE SOSA
Consider, friend, before we engage,
That though my fears are satisfied,
I still feel burning deep inside,
The memory of my jealous rage.

They draw their swords and begin to skirmish; Don FÉLIX enters

FÉLIX
1820
Gentlemen, put up your swords,
I've come to stop you!

GARCÍA
I'd like to see
The man capable of stopping me!

FÉLIX
Sheathe your steel, and hear my words;
The quarrel between the two of you
1825
Is groundless!

JUAN DE SOSA
I told him so, but he
Insists on the necessity
Of answering my call, and drew
His naked sword for honor's sake.

FÉLIX
And like a gentleman he drew
1830
His sword, with valor equal to
His mighty spirit, and that should make
His honor safe. Sir, understand,
I beg you, it was jealousy
That blinded him, and grant that he
1835
May have your pardon and your hand.

GARCÍA
I will be ruled by you; well said.
But be more careful from this time on,
And don't rush into things, Don Juan,
Where even angels fear to tread.
1840
The whole thing should be comprehended,
Before you ever duel again;
It's crazy to start the process, when
You know the way these things are ended.

Don GARCÍA goes out

FÉLIX
You're a very lucky man, you know,
1845
That I arrived here just in time.

JUAN DE SOSA
In other words, you're saying I'm
Mistaken.

FÉLIX
Yes.

JUAN DE SOSA
Who told you so?

FÉLIX
One of Lucrecia's pages. I know
All the details.

JUAN DE SOSA
Then tell them to me—
1850
What really happened?

FÉLIX
Your page did see
Jacinta's coach and coachman go
Last night down to the elm grove on
The riverside. And the ladies within
Had themselves quite a marvelous din-
1855
ner. But! The coach was a borrowed one.
Here are the facts. Last night at the ver-
y hour Lucrecia went to see
Your beautful Jacinta, she
Was trying to deal with a pair
1860
Of queens from out of town—her two
Cousins, the ones with the killing eyes?

JUAN DE SOSA
The ones from Carmen Street?

FÉLIX
Precise-
ly. And they're the very ladies who
Begged Jacinta to let them use
1865
Her coach, in which they made their way
Under cover of night, to the river; and they
Were the ones of whom your page brought news,
Whom you had ordered to keep an eye
On the coach, who seeing two women in there,
1870
And no other visitors anywhere,
Had to assume it was occupied by
Jacinta and Lucrecia.

JUAN DE SOSA
Of course!

FÉLIX
He followed the coach diligently,
And when it stopped at the elm grove, he
1875
Saw all the waiters and troubadours
And left to come to look for us
In Madrid. And it's because he couldn't
Find us that you've been in pain. You wouldn't
Have suffered from such torturous
1880
Jealousy, if you had gone
To the grove and discovered your mistake.

JUAN DE SOSA
Yes, that's the thing that made me make
This fatal error! And yet upon
Discovering that I was wrong
1885
I feel such joy, that everything
I've suffered seems worth the suffering.

FÉLIX
I've something else to pass along.
You might find it amusing.

JUAN DE SOSA
Say.

FÉLIX
It's something our friend García did.
1890
It seems he only got to Madrid
From Salamanca yesterday.
And instantly he went to bed
And slept the entire night away;
So everything you heard him say
1895
About this feast was all in his head.

JUAN DE SOSA
What are you saying?

FÉLIX
I tell you true.

JUAN DE SOSA
You mean that Don García lies?

FÉLIX
I'd say that any man with eyes
In his head could see that. The whole thing's too
1900
Farfetched to be believed—gold
And silver service, six pavilions,
Sideboards piled high with millions
Of plates, thirty-two courses, ice-cold
Goblets, orchestras, a four-part choir!

JUAN DE SOSA
1905
The only thing that puzzles me
Is how a valiant man could be
Such an outrageous liar.
The fury of his sword might try
The strength of Hercules.

FÉLIX
Then he
1910
Inherited his bravery;
He had to teach himself to lie.

JUAN DE SOSA
Let's go to Jacinta, it's time that I
Went and apologized to her,
And tried to explain how it could occur
1915
That such a liar could rouse all my
Suspicions.

FÉLIX
And from now on, be
Careful not to believe a word
He says.

JUAN DE SOSA
Even if I heard
The truth, I'd think it a fantasy.

And they go out

Scene Four: A Street

Enter Don GARCÍA, TRISTÁN, and CAMINO

GARCÍA
1920
I hope my father will forgive
Me for deceiving him. There was
No choice.

TRISTÁN
It was ingenious,
But tell me, sir, what narrative
Will you think up now, to keep him from
1925
Figuring out your wedding story
Was a fiction?

GARCÍA
Well, before he
Finds out, I guess I'll tell him some-
thing else—I'll write back false replies
To every letter he gives me to send
1930
To Salamanca. Why should it end?
I can keep it going by telling more lies.

Doña JACINTA, Doña LUCRECIA, and ISABEL enter above, in a window

JACINTA
I'd just got used to the whole idea,
When back comes Don Beltrán, enraged,
With the news that I couldn't be engaged
1935
To be married to Don García.

LUCRECIA
So then your fake American
Really was his son, García.

JACINTA
That's true,
My friend.

LUCRECIA
And who acquainted you
With the story of the banquet?

JACINTA
Don Juan.

LUCRECIA
1940
But when did you have time to see
Don Juan?

JACINTA
Tonight—he just now went.
He knew the story well, and spent
The whole time telling it to me.

LUCRECIA
It's rather grand—his dishonesty!
1945
And you should punish him for it, I'd say.

JACINTA
Those three men there—does it look like they
Are heading toward our balcony?

LUCRECIA
It's Don García marching to
His post. It's time.

JACINTA
Go, Isabel,
1950
Spy on the two old men and tell
Us what they're doing.

LUCRECIA
I can tell you;
My father's telling your uncle some slow,
Dull, long drawn-out story about
God knows what.

ISABEL
Then I'll go out;
1955
And when I come back, I'll let you know.

To Don GARCÍA

CAMINO
There's the balcony where your heart,
Your soul, your glory waits for you.

To Doña JACINTA

LUCRECIA
It's your big scene, I want you to
Speak all my lines, and take my part.

GARCÍA
1960
Lucrecia?

JACINTA
García, is that you?

GARCÍA
It is one who found a jewel today
On Silver Street, richer than may
Be carved by the hand of heaven—one who
From the first moment he laid his eyes
1965
On you, was caught in the grip of love,
And surrended his heart, his soul, all of
His life, so greatly did he prize
Your worth—one who in essence gave
Himself. As yours alone does he
1970
Account himself, and begins to be
Today what he is—Lucrecia's slave.

JACINTA
Doña JACINTA and Doña LUCRECIA speak aside
(My friend, this gallant seems to be
In love with every girl he sees.)

LUCRECIA
(Then he's a charlatan.)

JACINTA
(He's
1975
A great pretender, certainly.)

GARCÍA
My lady, I am eager to be
Of any service I may to you.

JACINTA
It's no longer possible to do
What I hoped you would discuss with me—

TRISTÁN
1980
TRISTÁN and Don GARCÍA speak aside
(Is that her?)

GARCÍA
(Oh, yes!)

JACINTA
I wished to discuss
An important marriage, sir, and so
I sent for you, but now I know
That it's not possible for us.

GARCÍA
But why?

JACINTA
Because you've made a prior
1985
Marriage.

GARCÍA
I have? Who, me?

JACINTA
Yes, you.

GARCÍA
I'm single, by heaven! It's not true!
Whoever told you that was a liar!

JACINTA
Doña JACINTA and Doña LUCRECIA speak aside
(Have you ever seen a bigger fraud?)

LUCRECIA
(All he knows how to do is deceive.)

JACINTA
1990
That's what you'd like me to believe!

GARCÍA
I'm single, I tell you—I swear to God!

JACINTA
(And now he swears it!)

LUCRECIA
(That's what they do—
Liars—that's how they work—they all
Take oaths to bolster up their fall-
1995
ing credit, and make their lies seem true.)

GARCÍA
If yours is the white hand that Fate
Has chosen to be the crown of my
Good fortune, I hope that I
Can keep from forfeiting that great-
2000
est good by simply proving to you
That I am guiltless of this offense.

JACINTA
(He lies with so much confidence!
Doesn't it almost seem to be true?)

GARCÍA
Here is my hand, and by the power
2005
Of that, lady, believe in me.

JACINTA
A hand you'd give as surety
To three hundred women in a single hour?

GARCÍA
Somehow I've lost my credit with you.

JACINTA
For a very good reason, I would say.
2010
You expect to keep it, when today
You told me you were from Peru?
When the truth is you were born right here
In Madrid, and that although you just
Got back into town, you said you must
2015
Have been around for a whole year
Here in the court. And then you claim,
Somewhat more recently, that you
Were wed in Salamanca to
Some woman, which you now disclaim,
2020
And on top of that, you were in your bed
Asleep last night, although you lied
And said you were by the riverside
Feasting some lady with a fancy spread.

TRISTÁN
(I'd say that covers it.)

GARCÍA
All right, this
2025
Is the simple truth. Listen to me,
My glorious one, I think I see
Exactly where the problem is.
I really don't think I need to bring
The other matters up, they're not
2030
Important, really. But we've got
To talk about the crucial thing—
This marriage. Lucrecia, will you tell
Me something: if you were the reason why
I said I was married, would the lie
2035
I told be blamed on you as well?

JACINTA
If I were the reason?

GARCÍA
Yes, my prize.

JACINTA
How could I be?

GARCÍA
I'll tell you how.

JACINTA
(You listen close, Lucrecia, now
We're going to get some gorgeous lies.)

GARCÍA
2040
This very day my father was trying
To arrange a marriage for me, to force
Me to marry someone else. But yours
I must be, and I hoped by lying
To prevent it. And in expectation of
2045
Gaining your hand, when it comes to
All other women, I'm married, for you
And you alone, I'm single, my love.
When I got your note, I had to be
Encouraged, and so I tried to block,
2050
With this excuse, all further talk
Of other marriage plans for me.
So that's the story. And if you view
The whole thing as a rude surprise,
Remember that what prompted the lies
2055
Was really the truth of my love for you.

LUCRECIA
(If only that were so!)

JACINTA
(How well
He talks, and with so little time
To prepare!) So, you say that I'm
The reason why you suffer—tell
2060
Me then how could I be, on so
Short an acquaintance? You saw me today,
And you're hopelessly in love, you say?
You'd marry a woman you don't even know?

GARCÍA
I grant, today I saw your beauty
2065
For the first time, lady, and love
Compels me now to speak to you of
Only what's true—it is my duty.
But don't forget that godlike things
Work miracles, and Cupid, though
2070
He's far too young to walk, can go
Swift as the wind, on Love's own wings.
And thus to say a moment would be
Too short a time to make me die
Of love, Lucrecia, is to deny
2075
Your power and your divinity.
You ask how I can love you when
I know you hardly at all. I would
To God I didn't know you! I could
Be sure my love was purer then.
2080
But I do know you—and your family;
Your name is sweet upon my lips:
You are a Luna without eclipse,
A Mendoza free from infamy.
I know your mother has passed away,
2085
You live alone in your great house,
Your father's income exceeds a thous-
and doubloons—I'm sure. Now can you say
That I am ill informed? I would
To God, my dearest love, you knew
2090
Me half so well, and loved me too.

LUCRECIA
(Love him! I almost think I could.)

JACINTA
But what about Jacinta? She's
Pretty enough, isn't she,
Smart and rich enough to be
2095
Courted by all the finest grandees?

GARCÍA
She's smart, rich, and pretty, I concur.
But that means nothing at all to me.

JACINTA
Why, what defect in her do you see?

GARCÍA
The biggest—I'm not in love with her.

JACINTA
2100
Suppose I wanted you to be
Married to her? That that was why
I called you here? What would you reply?

GARCÍA
That you were being hard on me
For nothing. That's what my father said,
2105
He had the same idea today;
And that is why I had to say
That I already had been wed
To someone else. So that won't work.
I'm sorry, no; and if you try
2110
To talk me into it, then I
Would sooner get married to a Turk.
And that's the truth. And I swear here,
That I will hate—such is my love—
Anything else you can even think of,
2115
That isn't you, Lucrecia dear.

LUCRECIA
(Would it were true!)

JACINTA
Have you no shame?
Or is it a faulty memory
That makes you lie so outrageously?
How dare you treat me so—the same
2120
Day that I hear you profess your love
To Jacinta! By all that's holy, how
Do you dare to deny it now?

GARCÍA
Jacinta? I swear by God above,
That you're the only lady I
2125
Have talked to since I came to Madrid.

JACINTA
You might have told your lies and hid
Your shame till now! But will you try—
In the very thing I saw you do—
To tell me lies? If that is so,
2130
How could I ever hope to know
Even the smallest truth from you?
Good-bye! And if I ever hear
From you again, think this, I do
It only to amuse myself with you—
2135
As those, exhausted by the sheer
Weight of their business, leave their tables
And workbenches to seek relief
From their tedium, by spending a brief
Hour or two with Aesop's fables.

Doña JACINTA goes out

GARCÍA
2140
Lovely Lucrecia, hear me out.

LUCRECIA
(Now I'm really confused.)

Doña LUCRECIA goes out

GARCÍA
I'm going mad.
Was there ever a time when true things had
So little credit?

TRISTÁN
When they came out
Of a lying mouth.

GARCÍA
She didn't believe
2145
A word I said!

TRISTÁN
What's the surprise?
She caught you in six or seven lies
Already. What did you hope to achieve?
The next time give it a little thought—
And you'll see—the man who lies in small
2150
Affairs, will he be trusted at all
In important matters? I think not!

And they go out
END OF ACT TWO

Act III

Scene One: A Room in Don Sancho's House

CAMINO comes in with a note; he gives it to LUCRECIA

CAMINO
This note for you was given me
By Tristán the trusty, a man who serves
García well and well deserves
2155
His trust—as I deserve to be
Trusted by you—a man whom fate
Has rudely placed in service though
He was nobly born. His master so
Insists upon immediate
2160
Reply, he says, that he would swear
The boy is crazy.

LUCRECIA
It's strange to me!
What man would woo so stubbornly
Who only counterfeits to care?
The strongest love's not strong enough
2165
Unless it is returned again.
Can passion be pretended when
It's so undaunted by rebuff?

CAMINO
Well, I will swear to this at least—
If what's inside the heart may be known
2170
By what outside the heart is shown,
The man is definitely diseased.
Someone, let's say, who wears a rut
In your street, pacing night and day?
Someone who never looks away
2175
From your shutters, even when they're shut?
Someone who gets to your balcony
Just in time to see you go,
And yet remains there rooted so,
Unseen, unseeing, unceasingly?
2180
Someone who weeps, who even despairs,
And who because I serve his love
Pays me—the surest symptom of
This illness in today's affairs?
So—cross my palm and hope to die,
2185
If he's a liar, I'm insane.

LUCRECIA
Alas, Camino, it's very plain
That you have never heard him lie.
If only I knew he had expressed
His feelings truly, for my own part
2190
I swear to you, his storm-tossed heart
Would find safe harbor in my breast.
Of course I know it would be best
Not to believe his equivocation,
But I'll say this—his imagination
2195
Has certainly piqued my interest.
And though it would be madness to
Give credit to a man who lies,
All things are possible for him who tries,
There's no compulsion not to be true.
2200
Since this is so, I still have just
Enough hope and self-esteem to believe
That he could learn not to deceive
With me, and change his ways. I must,
Of course, protect my honor still;
2205
He may be lying, or he may
Be true in love, so either way
I'll keep in mind both good and ill;
And since he may be worthy of
My hand, I never will respect him
2210
If he lies, nor ever will reject him
If he truly speaks to me of love.

CAMINO
Well, that seems fair enough to me.

LUCRECIA
Then tell him how I cruelly tore
His letter all to pieces before
2215
I could read it. That's what my reply will be.
But then tell him not to despair—
On your own account—and that if he
Still wishes to converse with me
Then he should come to evening prayer
2220
At Mary Magdalen's.

CAMINO
I go.

LUCRECIA
And all my hopes go with you today.

CAMINO
They'll never get lost if they go my way,
I'm the best Camino in town, you know.

They go off

Scene Two: A room in Don Beltrán's house

Enter Don BELTRÁN, Don GARCÍA, and TRISTÁN. Don BELTRÁN takes out an unsealed letter and hands it to Don GARCÍA

BELTRÁN
Have you written yet, my son?

GARCÍA
2225
This evening I was going to.

BELTRÁN
Then here's what I would like you to do—
I'll give you mine right now un-
sealed; you can read it and make sure
Your father-in-law receives the same
2230
Message from both of us now—name-
ly that you'll be coming soon to your
New wife, to bring her back to her
New home yourself. I want you to,
And it's the proper thing to do;
2235
Sending for her would be discour-
teous when you are free to go.

GARCÍA
That's true, but the trip would be in vain.

BELTRÁN
Why?

GARCÍA
She's expecting, and the strain
Of making such a trip, you know,
2240
At least until she gives you what
You're hoping for, a grandson, might be
A risk.

BELTRÁN
It'd be insanity
To travel now. Sweet Jesus! But
Tell me, why did you wait till now
2245
To give me the happy news, García?

GARCÍA
Till yesterday I had no idea—
It came in the mail. They wrote me how
They knew for sure my darling bride,
My Sancha, was with child.

BELTRÁN
What joy
2250
To my old age a little boy
Would bring! What comfort and what pride!
I want to add a word or two
About how pleased I am. Give me
My note.
Don BELTRÁN takes the letter back
Your father-in-law, let's see—
2255
What was the name again?

GARCÍA
Of who?

BELTRÁN
Your father-in-law.

GARCÍA
Aside
(What did I tell
Him?) Don Diego.

BELTRÁN
No, that's not so—
You called him Pedro a while ago,
Unless I'm wrong.

GARCÍA
No, that as well.
2260
Yes, I remember now—he still
Uses them both.

BELTRÁN
Don Pedro and
Don Diego?

GARCÍA
I'm sure you'll understand!
Because of a certain codicil,
All the heirs of the family estate
2265
And fortune have to take the name
Diego. He was Pedro before he became
The head of the family. But since that date
He has to be called Diego, because
Of the codicil in the will, you see,
2270
So now he's Diego, but he still might be
Pedro sometimes, which is who he was.

BELTRÁN
Well, it's a common codicil—
In certain Spanish families.
I'm going to write him.

Don BELTRÁN goes out

TRISTÁN
No more of these
2275
Mix-ups of yours—they make me ill.

GARCÍA
Oh, then you heard my explanation?

TRISTÁN
I heard more than I understood.
I see a liar needs as good
A memory as imagination.

GARCÍA
2280
I thought I was finished.

TRISTÁN
You made a good start
And it's how you'll end up if you don't watch out.

GARCÍA
But meanwhile all I care about
Is how things are going in affairs of the heart—
For better or worse—any news?

TRISTÁN
Well she's
2285
Not nearly as tough as she'd like to be;
I don't think you'll need the brutality
Of a Tarquin to ravish this Lucrece.

GARCÍA
You mean she read my note?

TRISTÁN
Oh, yes.
Although she told Camino to
2290
Report she tore it up. It's true—
It's what I heard the man confess.
And based on that, I'd have to say
This could be going a whole lot worse,
If one believes the little verse
2295
That Martial wrote his girl one day.
"I sent my love a little note,
She never answered. Pretty tough.
But she'll soften soon enough,
Since she read the words I wrote."

GARCÍA
2300
I don't trust him—d'you think it's true?

TRISTÁN
I'm sure Camino's on your side,
And vows—whatever she tries to hide
In her secret heart, he'll reveal to you.
Once he gives his word, he won't take it back—
2305
As long as you keep giving as well,
When it comes to making a sinner tell,
Money's much better than the rack.
And a gift or two for her, I'm told,
Might help to make a conquest of
2310
The girl's reserve. For the God of Love
Makes killing arrows out of gold.

GARCÍA
I never heard you talk before
So grossly! What's got into you?
She's not the kind of woman who
2315
Would give herself for gold like—

TRISTÁN
Book Four
Of the Aeneid, as you know,
Says Dido was consumed with love
For Aeneas, as much the victim of
The Trojan's gifts as Cupid's bow.
2320
And she was a queen! So don't look so
Amazed if what I say sounds rough;
Only a diamond's strong enough
To cut a diamond, you know.

GARCÍA
But didn't you see how she was so
2325
Offended by my offer to her
On Silver Street?

TRISTÁN
The offer, sir,
She found offensive—the jewelry, no.
In these affairs, let custom be
Your guide. As far as I know, around here
2330
They don't cut off a hand or an ear
For the crime of generosity.

GARCÍA
I think I'd give her the earth and sky
If I thought she'd want them.

TRISTÁN
There can be no
More direct way to her than Camino—
2335
He's a polestar you can navigate by.
And just to let you know how well
The whole affair is going, sir,
There's this: Lucrecia ordered her
Servant—the same Camino—to tell
2340
You something, on his own—that his
Sweet mistress would be going to pray
At Mary Magdalen's today.

GARCÍA
What sweet relief from pain this is!
So were you trying to drive me mad
2345
By telling me so slowly?

TRISTÁN
No!
The news was better delivered slow;
The longer it took, the more pleasure you had.

They go out

Scene Three: The cloisters of the convent of Mary Magdalen, with a door leading into the church

Enter Doña JACINTA and Doña LUCRECIA in mantillas

JACINTA
Is Don García still after you?

LUCRECIA
He won't let up. And even though
2350
I know his lying ways, he's so
Relentless, stubborn, and so true
That I'm not sure what I should do.

JACINTA
No law prevents a lying lip
From making the occasional slip
2355
And telling the truth. It may be you
Are not deceived. It may be true—
His love. Why not? A girl whose youth
And loveliness might draw the truth
From any man who looks at you?

LUCRECIA
2360
You're always flattering me; but I
Could never hope to be loved by him;
Your beauty makes the sun grow dim,
And you've already caught his eye.

JACINTA
You know your worth as well as I,
2365
And in our little rivalry
There's never been a victory,
Because the vote is always a tie.
But beauty's not the only thing
You need to get the fire lit;
2370
Love also needs a little bit
Of luck to keep it sizzling.
If I can step aside for you,
My friend, then all my happiness
Would be in seeing you possess
2375
A love I'm not entitled to.
García has no real claim
On me, and this could never be
Your fault. Just do it cautiously,
Or you'll end up being to blame
2380
For rushing headlong into love
And being foolish for believing
Him, after being warned that deceiving
Was all that he was capable of.

LUCRECIA
Thank you so much, but let me just
2385
Help you to ease your suspicious mind;
I never said I was inclined
To give him love, only my trust.

JACINTA
You'll start by feeling bound to believe,
And end up loving boundlessly;
2390
The trip from trust to love can be
So short, you're there before you leave.

LUCRECIA
I wonder, then, what you'd make of
This note from him I just received.

JACINTA
I'd say that you already believed;
2395
I might even say you were in love.

LUCRECIA
Then you'd be wrong; the power of
The will, you know, is often free
To do for curiosity
What it would never do for love.
2400
You liked it when he talked with us
On Silver Street?

JACINTA
I liked it, yes.

LUCRECIA
You let him talk to you; confess,
Were you in love or curious?

JACINTA
Just curious.

LUCRECIA
Well, I'm like that—
2405
Just curious to know what's here
Inside his note, as you once were
To carry on your little chat.

JACINTA
But don't you see you're obvious-
ly wrong? To take a note he sent
2410
Is nothing less than encouragement;
To listen, merely courteous.

LUCRECIA
If he thought that I read the note,
He might find that encouraging;
But he thinks I tore up the thing
2415
Before I read a word he wrote.

JACINTA
Well, clearly then, if that's all you meant,
It was simple curiosity.

LUCRECIA
It's been a lifelong joy for me,
You know, my curious temperament.
2420
But listen to this, my dear, will you,
And see if you can recognize
His falsehoods? Tell me, are these lies?
Can they be lies, that sound so true?

Doña LUCRECIA takes out the note and reads it quietly to herself. CAMINO, TRISTÁN, and Don GARCÍA come in from the other side

CAMINO
You see right there—the one who's got
2425
The paper in her hand?

GARCÍA
I do.

CAMINO
Well, that's Lucrecia.

GARCÍA
Aside
(Lucrecia, it's you!
The cause of all my pain! But what
Is in that note? O, jealousy!)
Camino, I am in your debt.

TRISTÁN
2430
Which means tomorrow you can get
That brand new suit.

CAMINO
Happy to be
Of service.

CAMINO goes out

GARCÍA
Tristán, here's what I need—
A way of getting over there
Without her seeing me, to where
2435
I'm close enough to her to read
That paper!

TRISTÁN
That's easy, sir; you'll find
A chapel through this door; just keep
Along the inside wall, then creep
Out of that other door, behind
2440
Their backs.

GARCÍA
They're looking! Quick as a bird!

They slip out the first door

JACINTA
You might at least have whispered—you
Are very rude!

LUCRECIA
Here, read it—I'm too
Embarrassed to be overheard.

Doña LUCRECIA hands Doña JACINTA the note

JACINTA
Now this is ever so much better!

TRISTÁN and Don GARCÍA come back in the second door, behind the ladies' backs

TRISTÁN
2445
Well, that was easy enough to do.

GARCÍA
Tristán, you've got a better view;
So see if you can read the letter.

Doña JACINTA reads aloud

JACINTA
"Now that I see my credit with you
Is lost—no matter what I say—
2450
I ask you to trust my deeds, for they
Will never lie—deeds never do.
Only a husband's word will do
To make a lady like you believe,
And I can never hope to receive
2455
Your favor unless you think me true.
Here is my note, then—may it be a
Firm assurance; for as I sign
Myself, so am I, ever thine,
Already your husband, Don Garcia."

GARCÍA
2460
Good God above—it's the letter I wrote!

TRISTÁN
Why now? She read it at home before.

GARCÍA
Well, maybe it's because the more
She reads it, the more she enjoys my note.

TRISTÁN
Whatever the reason, it's going well.

GARCÍA
2465
Whatever the reason, I feel good, too.

To Doña LUCRECIA

JACINTA
It's short and sweet, so either it's true,
Or the biggest lie a man can tell.

To Doña JACINTA, from behind

GARCÍA
Turn, O turn those eyes on me,
Whose beams are fatal near and far!

Doña LUCRECIA and Doña JACINTA speak to each other

JACINTA
2470
He's still not certain who we are,
So veil yourself, and prepare to be
Enlightened now.

LUCRECIA
Don't mention me!

They veil themselves. Don GARCÍA speaks to Doña JACINTA

GARCÍA
Lift, O lift that veil away,
That men may see your heaven today,
2475
And heaven itself astonished be!
What find I here? O, can it be?
My love, my life's sweet murderer?
And yet where better look for her,
Than in a church, for sanctu'ry?
2480
If it's because you murdered me,
That you hide here—then fear not so;
The laws of love are strange, you know,
And so corrupt, they never fail
To keep the victim locked in jail
2485
And always let the killer go.
Would you relieve my suffering then,
My love? I hope you will. And is
Repentence why you've come to this
Old convent of the Magdalen?
2490
How just the hand of love is, when
It gives my pain this recompense!
For though your cruelty torments
Me so, I bear it all, my dear,
For the joy I feel, right now, right here,
2495
The glory of your penitence.
Dear mistress? Not a word from her?
You owe me nothing for my pain?
Or maybe you repent again
For having repented earlier?
2500
I beg of you, sweet murderer,
Before you strike me twice—beware
The consequence! If you should glare
With killing eyes upon my face—
A murder done in a holy place
2505
Can find no sanctuary there.

Doña JACINTA removes her veil

JACINTA
Do you know me?

GARCÍA
My God—too well!
So well, that ever since that day
On Silver Street, I dare not say
That I am I! I cannot tell
2510
The two of us apart. You dwell
In me, more deeply than I do.
I am transformed since seeing you—
Transformed to being you! My eyes
My self no longer recognize—
2515
Not what I am, or was, or who!

JACINTA
It's clear you have no memory of
Your former life—of what you were;
You had a wife—you've forgotten her—
You're busy courting some new love!

GARCÍA
2520
You're back to that! Good Lord above!

JACINTA
Why not?

GARCÍA
It's just your stubborn pride!
I made that up—I swear! I lied
To be with you!

JACINTA
Or not to be!
Mention a wedding, and suddenly
2525
You're off to Turkey to find a bride!

GARCÍA
I swear again—my love is true!
That I'm a married man is what
I am to other women, but
I'm still a bachelor for you!

Doña JACINTA and Doña LUCRECIA speak to one side

JACINTA
2530
Are you enlightened yet?

LUCRECIA
Aside
(Oh, me!
How swift a spark of love can start
A conflagration, and the heart
Erupt with burning jealousy!)

To Doña JACINTA

GARCÍA
Remember at your balcony
2535
That night, when I explained to you
My situation? Surely you do!

JACINTA
My balcony?

LUCRECIA
Aside
(Oh, treachery!)

JACINTA
You are mistaken—totally!
You talked to me?

GARCÍA
And you know when!

LUCRECIA
2540
Aside
(You talk to him at night, and then
You dare to give advice to me!)

GARCÍA
And what about the letter I wrote—
Do you deny it?

JACINTA
Of course I do!

LUCRECIA
Aside
(You're such a loyal friend, aren't you?)

GARCÍA
2545
I'm positive you read my note!

JACINTA
Lying can be quite wonderful,
As long as there's no injury,
But once you cross that boundary,
It just becomes intolerable.

GARCÍA
2550
But three nights ago, at your balcony,
Lucrecia—we talked—we two!

JACINTA
Aside
(Lucrecia! Me? Oh, good for you!
New bull in the ring, new strategy!
He saw Lucrecia! Now it's cer-
2555
tain that he loves her, since he pretended—
Just so she won't be offended—
That he'd mistaken me for her.)

LUCRECIA
(O traitress! I see what you're about!
You just informed him, doubtlessly,
2560
That the woman in the veil was me,
So now he's going to sort it out
By claiming that he talked to you
Because he thought that you were me!)

TRISTÁN
TRISTÁN speaks aside to Don GARCÍA
She must be pretending not to be
2565
Lucrecia, in order to
Confuse the woman she's with.

GARCÍA
I know!
If she were doing it for me,
She'd veil her face. But can they be
Talking together and still be so
2570
Unknown to one another?

TRISTÁN
That's true—
But then in church you often see
Two people talking who happen to be
Unknown to each other, but in the same pew.

GARCÍA
You're right!

TRISTÁN
So go along with her
2575
By claiming to be the victim of
Bad eyesight.

GARCÍA
Lady, the fire of love
So brightly burns, my weak eyes were
Bedazzled momentarily;
I took you for another, I fear.
2580
Forgive me my mistake, my dear;
It was this veil that blinded me.
For just as fantasy may be
Beguiled by love—so may the eyes.
Lucrecia's face I recognize
2585
In every woman that I see.

JACINTA
(I knew he'd try to play that part!)

LUCRECIA
(The little bitch informed on me!)

JACINTA
(The one he loves is obviously
Lucrecia.)

GARCÍA
Lady, my poor heart,
2590
From the first moment I did see
Her face, made her my sovereign queen.

Doña JACINTA and Doña LUCRECIA speak to one side

JACINTA
Well, he's the best I've ever seen!

LUCRECIA
Aside
(So now she's making fun of me!
I won't let on I understand—
2595
The last thing I want is to make a scene.)

To Don GARCÍA

JACINTA
I think Lucrecia would have been
Delighted, were she listening and
Assured of that.

GARCÍA
You know my sweet-
heart?

JACINTA
Know her? She's my dearest friend!
2600
So much so I would dare contend
That she and I have hearts that beat
As one—one heart between us two.

GARCÍA
Aside
(Well, obviously—if you are she!
How carefully and cleverly
2605
She teaches me what I'm to do!)
To Doña JACINTA
Then be an angel, I beg of you—
Since fortune now has offered me
This golden opportunity—
And bear her tidings of my true
2610
Devotion and my pain and woe.
And pardon me for making you
My messenger.

TRISTÁN
Aside
(Girls love to do
That sort of thing these days, you know,
At least in Madrid!)

GARCÍA
And try to make
2615
Her see such love deserves to be
Returned.

JACINTA
If you do that, I'll see
That she relents for your love's sake.

GARCÍA
Why won't she believe me? I've been head
Over heels since first I saw her beau-
2620
tiful face.

JACINTA
Well, I'll be frank with you-
She never believed a word you said!

GARCÍA
But it's true—I swear to God, it's true!

JACINTA
Look, she's the one you need to convince—
And being true won't matter, since
2625
The one who's saying it is you.
Liars make people so disgusted,
And their credit is so weak,
That when they open their mouths to speak,
Even the truth can't be trusted!

GARCÍA
2630
But lady—

JACINTA
Enough—no more—just be
Aware of this.

GARCÍA
I must obey.

To LUCRECIA

JACINTA
Are you happy now?

JACINTA goes out

LUCRECIA
Aside
(What can I say,
Jacinta? Thanks for enlightening me.)

LUCRECIA goes out

GARCÍA
She's such a smart one, isn't she?
2635
How cleverly she made it clear
She'd couldn't be Lucrecia here!

TRISTÁN
The girl's no fool, that's plain to see.

GARCÍA
She made it very clear that she
Would be upset if the other girl knew—
2640
The one that she was talking to.

TRISTÁN
That's obvious, since there can be
No other reason I can see
Why she'd refuse to admit what's true;
And she never really denied to you
2645
That talk you had at her balcony,
Since she herself reminded you
Of the very things that you discussed
When you conversed with her.

GARCÍA
That must
Be also why she let me view
2650
Her face without the veil—so I'd
Be sure.

TRISTÁN
And said so pointedly,
"Mention a wedding, and suddenly
You're off to Turkey to find a bride."
And just to add to what you've heard
2655
Already, here's more proof—that though
She says she's not Lucrecia, she'll go
And talk about her in the third
Person, revealing all her in-
most thoughts, suggesting that she knows
2660
She would respond to your propos-
als and your love, once you begin
To make Lucrecia come to see
The truth of what you tell her, sir.

GARCÍA
But what proof can I give to her
2665
To show I love her truthfully?

TRISTÁN
You want to marry her?

GARCÍA
I do.

TRISTÁN
Then ask her, sir.

GARCÍA
And if she won't?

TRISTÁN
It seems to me, sir, that you don't
Quite get what she just said to you:
2670
"Make her believe it, and I will see
That she relents for your love's sake."
What stronger gesture could she make
To tell you she desires to be
Your wife? Someone who takes your letter?
2675
Who talks with you from her balcony?
Good indications, sir, that she
Adores you! How could she give you better?
It's just the thought that you might be
Married that holds her back—that's all.
2680
And you'll surmount that obstacle
The minute you propose—for she
Must think a gentleman like you
Who offers marriage has to be
A real bachelor, you see?
2685
And if she needs to know it's true,
If she's afraid to trust a man
Who's lied to her before, if she
Demands some further guarantee,
Well—Salamanca's not Japan!

GARCÍA
2690
Oh, yes it is—for a young man who
Is hopelessly in love! Each mo-
ment lasts a century.

TRISTÁN
Do you know
Of someone here who'd vouch for you?

GARCÍA
I might.

TRISTÁN
Well, how hard could it be?

GARCÍA
2695
I'll go and find one right away.

TRISTÁN
I'll give you one right now—today!

GARCÍA
Oh? Who?

TRISTÁN
Don Juan.

GARCÍA
To vouch for me?
Don Juan de Sosa?

TRISTÁN
Yes—he'd do.

GARCÍA
Yes—he would know.

TRISTÁN
That's not to say
2700
I've seen him lately—not since that day
On Silver Street. Has he seen you?
Sir—I admit I wondered what
It was about that note you got
From him that worried you, but not
2705
Wanting to anger you, I put
My curiosity aside—because
The one time that I asked, you went
Quite pale and made a violent
Denial. Now that the moment does
2710
Seem more appropriate, I won-
der, sir, if I—the keeper of
Your secrets, the counselor of your love—
Might ask. By now, the storm is done.

GARCÍA
I want to tell you all—I must!
2715
For from experience I know
Your secrecy and prudence, so
I'm sure that you have earned my trust.
In the early evening, at St. Blaise,
Promptly at seven o'clock, he wrote,
2720
Don Juan de Sosa will wait for me,
To discuss a matter of some note.
Because it was a duel, I said
Nothing. A man would only speak
If he wanted to be stopped or helped—
2725
Two things that only a coward would seek!
So to the appointed place I came,
Where Don Juan de Sosa awaited me;
Two weapons he wore that gave him the odds—
They were his sword and his jealousy.
2730
His strong resentment he expressed,
And I accepted his angry words,
And then, at last, to make it right,
The two of us drew our naked swords.
Quickly measuring out the ground,
2735
I made a swift advance, and streak-
ing forward, deftly stepped aside,
To hit him with the thrust oblique.
His life was rescued by the Ag-
nus Dei medal he displayed
2740
Upon his chest, which caught my point,
And snapped in two my thrusting blade.
He gave me ground, stung by the blow,
Then with a furious rage, he roared
Back—and mainly thrust at me;
2745
High on the blade I caught his sword,
With a crosshand perpendicular
Defense. No sooner had he dis-
engaged, and found me still so near—
I had nowhere else to go, for his
2750
Weapon was now three times the length
Of my poor trusty steel, now just
A fragment of its former self,
Shattered in that initial thrust,
And I was forced by this to seek
2755
Close quarters—but on he sped,
Aiming a furious slashing blow
In the direction of my head.
I took him at the very top
Of his downswing, driving my bold
2760
But shortened blade beneath the full
Weight of his sword, stopping it cold!
Then came the moment of truth! I spun
Out with a backhand blow of such
Power, the shortness of my sword
2765
Didn't count against me much,
And opened in his head a gash
As wide as my hand, and down he fell,
Fainting and senseless upon the ground,
And lifeless I presumed as well.
2770
And there I left him, secretly
Returning here. That's it, that's my
Whole story—and if you've missed him,
Now you know the reason why.

TRISTÁN
What an amazing incident!
2775
And was he dead?

GARCÍA
He had to be—
I mean, the poor man's brains were spread
All over the vicinity.

TRISTÁN
O, poor don Juan!
Don JUAN DE SOSA and Don BELTRÁN come in on the other side
But isn't that
Him walking towards us?

GARCÍA
How bizarre!

TRISTÁN
2780
You even tried to lie to me—
Your secretary and counselor!
Aside
(Dear God, how could I fall for that—
Who knew how he was predisposed!
But then again who wouldn't be fooled
2785
By lies so beautifully composed? )

GARCÍA
They must have used some kind of spell
To heal the wound!

TRISTÁN
The gash that you
Described let all his brains spill out—
It healed in just a day or two?

GARCÍA
2790
You think that's something? In Salamanca
One time, I know, they used this spell
On a man who had his whole arm am-
putated, and half his shoulder as well,
And once they stuck the thing back on,
2795
It was less than a week before he had
It working and just as healthy as
It was before.

TRISTÁN
He's raving mad!

GARCÍA
I'm telling you something that I saw—
Not something that I merely heard!

TRISTÁN
2800
Please, sir, no more!

GARCÍA
By God, it's true!
I won't take back a single word.

TRISTÁN
Aside
(Ah, do we ever know each other!)
I'd think my services repaid,
If you would teach that spell to me.

GARCÍA
2805
The thing's in Hebrew, I'm afraid,
So if you don't know that, you won't
Know how the incantation's sung.

TRISTÁN
And you know Hebrew?

GARCÍA
Fluently.
Better than the Spanish tongue.
2810
I speak ten languages.

TRISTÁN
Aside
(And I'm
Quite sure that you've already lied
In every one. And more. The saying
"He's full of. . . truth" might be applied
To you. Since only lies get out,
2815
There's all that truth still trapped inside!)

To Don JUAN

BELTRÁN
What are you saying?

JUAN DE SOSA
That unless my mem-
ory is playing tricks, no one
In Salamanca has those names—
No lady, nor no gentleman.

BELTRÁN
2820
Aside
(Another fabrication from
My son García, obviously!
I'd better keep this to myself.)
Sir, may your new commission be
A source of joy for many years—
2825
Along with a handsome salary.

JUAN DE SOSA
Sir, I shall always be so much
The more in your debt, the more I thrive.
And now, my duty calls, I fear—
There are some gentlemen that I've
2830
Got to go thank. I may not see
You to your house—pray, pardon me.

Don JUAN DE SOSA goes out

BELTRÁN
God give me strength! How long must I
Be punished for my son's disgrace?
Forever? Is it possible?
2835
And how could he look me in the face
And lie—at the very moment he
Was being chided for that sin!
And how, in such an important thing,
Could he so quickly take me in?
2840
Me who already knew too well
His reputation for telling lies!
But then who would believe that he
Could look at me right in the eyes,
While I was scolding him—and lie!
2845
Who could imagine such a thing—
That a judge could have his pocket picked
By the thief that he was sentencing?

To Don GARCÍA

TRISTÁN
Are you still resolved to talk to him?

GARCÍA
Of course, Tristán.

TRISTÁN
Then God go with thee!

To Don BELTRÁN

GARCÍA
2850
Father?

BELTRÁN
Don't you dare call me that!
Villain! Call me your enemy!
No man has any blood of mine
Who bears not even the slightest trace
Of a resemblance to me!
2855
Away! If I never see your face—

TRISTÁN
Aside to Don GARCÍA
(There seems to be a storm on the
Horizon. Find a better time.)

BELTRÁN
God in heaven! What punishment
Have I deserved? You know that I'm
2860
The kind of man that loves the truth—
How can you give me a son like this,
Of just the opposite condition?
How can a man like me, who is
So careful of his honor, spawn
2865
This base, contaminated boy?
How can you take my Gabriel,
The honor to my blood, the joy
Of my grey hairs, and pluck him
In the flower of youth? I could say more—
2870
But for my faith!

GARCÍA
Aside
(What's going on?)

TRISTÁN
Aside to Don GARCÍA
(Get lost! What are you waiting for?)

BELTRÁN
Go away, Tristán—leave us alone!
No, wait, come back—don't go away;
Perhaps the fact that you're aware
2875
Of his shame will be humilia-
tion enough to have some effect on him—
More than respect for my grey hair!
And if this mortification's not
Enough to drive him to repair
2880
His faults, at least he'll feel the sting
Of having his vices publicized!
So what did you hope to gain, you wretch?
Madman! What joy have you realized
From telling lies so recklessly?
2885
If you must gallop after your in-
clinations with everybody else—
At least with me, rein yourself in!
This Salamanca wedding, what
Was the point of inventing that? Were you
2890
Trying to undermine my credit
With everyone I was talking to?
How can I face these people again—
These people that I told about
Your marriage to Doña Sancha de
2895
Herrera? How can I face it out?
When once they all discover she's
A fiction—your Sancha—then I will be
Denounced as well—this noble head
Hung with the charge of complicity.
2900
And then what means is left to me
To clear this blot from my good name?
Since the only way to manage that—
If I want to rid myself of blame—
Is to put it on my son instead!
2905
And then by saying publicly
The fault was yours, I make myself
The herald of your infamy!
If it was some affair of the heart
That obligated you to be
2910
Untrue to me—what did you think?
That I would be your enemy?
What weapon would I strike you with,
But with the name of father, father
To the end? That name alone should tell
2915
You how your plight would move me rather
Than anger me—an old man who
Was young once too, and has to know
How high and hot in young men's hearts
The flames of love can sometimes grow.

GARCÍA
2920
If you know that, and that alone
Had been enough for you back then
To pardon me, isn't it still
Enough to pardon me again?
Right now? It seemed a sign of dis-
2925
respect to your grey hairs if I
Had disobeyed your plans for me,
And so I felt I had to lie.
It was an error, not a crime;
I wasn't guilty, I was mis-
2930
informed. The cause is love, and you're
My father indeed, to say that this
Is all I need to win your pardon.
I see my offense. Now listen to
The lovely reason why, and she
2935
Herself will make amends to you.
Doña Lucrecia, the daughter of
Don Juan de Luna, is for me
The soul of life—this only child
And heir of all her family;
2940
And all I lack to be most blest
With her most beauteous hand is for you
To give me your consent, and make
A declaration that the ru-
mor of my marriage can be traced
2945
Back to this cause, and is untrue.

BELTRÁN
No, no! In Jesus' name—no more!
Don't stick me in another one!
I'd have to think you lied to me,
If you told me that thing was the sun.

GARCÍA
2950
You need not fear. That must be true
Which is corroborated by
The facts; Tristán, whom you can trust,
Is ready, sir, to testify
To my desires.
To TRISTÁN
Tell him.

TRISTÁN
Yes, sir.
2955
He tells it, sir, just as it is.

BELTRÁN
Aren't you embarrassed now, to have
A servant vouch for you? Is this
Not shameful, sir? To make the truth
Of what you say depend upon
2960
Your servingman? Oh well, all right,
I want to talk to old Don Juan;
God grant he give you his Lucrecia,
And pity the poor deluded thing!
But first I need to be sure about
2965
This Salamanca marrying
Business. I fear in telling me
You lied, you're still dissembling.
I knew the truth already, you see,
Before I came to talk to you;
2970
But now I hear you speak of it,
I can hardly trust that the truth is true.

Don BELTRÁN goes out

GARCÍA
Well, that went well!

TRISTÁN
Oh yes—quite well.
I thought perhaps you had used that spell
On him, that Hebrew incantation,
2975
That reverses amputation.

They go out

Scene Four: A room in the house of Don Juan de Luna, with views of the garden

Don JUAN DE LUNA and Don SANCHO come in

JUAN DE LUNA
It seems the night has turned a little cool.

SANCHO
My dear Don Juan de Luna, the river air
Is much too cold for these old bones, too cruel.

JUAN DE LUNA
Better we stay here in my garden, where
2980
We can set up a table for ourselves, and eat
A pleasant meal in peace, without a care.

SANCHO
You're right, Don Juan, that would be more discrete;
We'll sup down by the river some other night,
When it's more temperate. These extremes of heat
2985
And cold can harm the health.

Calling off stage

JUAN DE LUNA
Lucrecia, you might
Invite your lovely friend to come out here
Into the garden.

SANCHO
God willing, sir, do right
By that sweet angel.

JUAN DE LUNA
She's no fool, it's clear;
And lovely as my daughter is, I know
2990
More than her life she holds her virtue dear.

A SERVANT enters, goes to SANCHO

SERVANT
There's someone at the door—Don Juan de So-
sa—seeking you; he'd like to be let in.

SANCHO
This late?

JUAN DE LUNA
It must be of importance.

SANCHO
Go,
And show him in.

The SERVANT goes out, and then Don JUAN DE SOSA enters, with a paper in his hand

JUAN DE SOSA
Dear sir, I'd never have been
2995
So bold to come without this paper. But
With it, I have no patience, I must begin!
My love can't bear a moment's delay, if what
Is in this paper means I may now see
My dear beloved's face in all its ut-
3000
most glory. My commission's come! Now be
Mindful of what you promised me. You may
Fulfill your word and crown my victory!

SANCHO
My faith in you, you have confirmed today,
Don Juan, by bringing me this happy news
3005
Without so much as even a moment's delay.
I'll go and tell my lovely niece. Excuse
Me for not calling her to come. Without
Being fully dressed, I know she would refuse.

SANCHO goes out

JUAN DE LUNA
I always knew you'd win. The truth will out!
3010
Even the truth most hidden and oppressed.
Delay there may be—yes—but never doubt!

Don BELTRÁN, Don GARCÍA, and TRISTÁN come in to another area

BELTRÁN
It's not a good time now—he has a guest.
We have important business to discuss;
To talk to him alone would be the best.

GARCÍA
3015
Don Juan de Sosa can be of help to us—
To witness to that thing in Salaman-
ca.

BELTRÁN
That you should need his help—it's infamous!
Till I assure him our proposal's hon-
orable, kindly delay all mention of
3020
That business.

JUAN DE LUNA
Beltrán, my friend!

BELTRÁN
My friend, Don Juan!

JUAN DE LUNA
Such courtesy so late at night?

BELTRÁN
I'd prove
By this how constant is my love, and true.

JUAN DE LUNA
Blessed is he who could deserve such love!

BELTRÁN
You must excuse me; the door was open to
3025
Your house—that and our friendship seemed to be
Permission enough to come and visit you.

JUAN DE LUNA
Now, now—that's quite enough of your flattery!
My heart is eager to know why you are here.

BELTRÁN
And I will tell you—just as eagerly!

To Don JUAN DE SOSA

GARCÍA
3030
The truth of such a man as you, my dear
Don Juan, some envious soul might for a time
Oppress, but never conquer—'tis too clear!
Believe me, sir, I swear to God that I'm
Happy for your success.

JUAN DE SOSA
Believe you? Yes—
3035
As much as I can.

GARCÍA
And may you climb
As high in rank and have as much success
As you deserve and I would wish for you.

JUAN DE LUNA
This match will bring Lucrecia such a bless-
ing that I feel it is a dream come true!
3040
Don Juan de Sosa, if you will pardon me—
Dear Don García—son—a word or two.
Your father says that you desire to be
Lucrecia's husband.

GARCÍA
All that I am or do,
My joy, my life, my soul, my honor she
3045
Holds in her hand.

JUAN DE LUNA
Then here is mine, in lieu
Of hers.
They shake hands
I know how much you bring to me;
And so does she, I've heard her speak of you.

GARCÍA
For this great boon, I thank you heartily.

SANCHO comes in, with LUCRECIA and JACINTA

LUCRECIA
After so many obstacles
3050
Your dream comes true! Isn't it sweet?

JACINTA
When you have yours, my dear Lucrecia,
My happiness will be complete.

JUAN DE LUNA
She comes, with Jacinta by the hand;
How little she suspects what bless-
3055
ings wait for her—all shining bright
And colorful as a wedding dress!
Oh, what shall I get for my reward,
Once I have told her the good news?

Don JUAN DE LUNA speaks to LUCRECIA

BELTRÁN
Don BELTRÁN speaks aside to Don GARCÍA
(Oh no! Don Sancho! I wish I had
3060
Some other face that I could use.

GARCÍA
The little sins that love commits,
A wise man knows how to excuse.)

To Don JUAN DE LUNA

LUCRECIA
There was no Salamanca bride?

JUAN DE LUNA
He made that up just to confuse
3065
His father, who was trying to marry
Him off to someone else—that's all!

LUCRECIA
If that is so, my will is yours;
And I am most agreeable.

SANCHO
Come on, you bright young gentlemen,
3070
Approach your fiancées; they stand
Ready, and each confesses herself
Content, and awaits her lover's hand.

GARCÍA
And now my deeds will finally seal
The truth of everything I feel!

Don GARCÍA and Don JUAN DE SOSA both go up to JACINTA

JUAN DE LUNA
3075
Where are you going, Don García?
The lovely Lucrecia's over here.

GARCÍA
Lucrecia? Since when?

BELTRÁN
What's happening?

To JACINTA

GARCÍA
You are my mistress, lady dear!

BELTRÁN
Oh, not another one!

GARCÍA
The names
3080
May be wrong, but I know I'm asking for
The right person. It's you I seek;
You are the lady I adore.

Taking out a paper

LUCRECIA
But what you say in your letter here—
Do you deny it to my face?
3085
It's written in your hand, deceiver!

BELTRÁN
You did it again—another disgrace!

JUAN DE SOSA
Give me your hand, Jacinta dear,
And put an end to this foolishness!

SANCHO
Jacinta, give Don Juan your hand!

Giving him her hand

JACINTA
3090
I'm yours.

GARCÍA
I've lost my happiness.

BELTRÁN
By God, if you don't marry that
Lucrecia, you'll lose a lot more
Than that, my boy! I'll strike you dead!

JUAN DE LUNA
I gave you my own hand before
3095
In pledge of hers—and you gave yours.
If you should change your mind again
With this insane inconstancy
Of yours, I'll wash away the stain
Of my dishonor in your blood!

TRISTÁN
3100
I hate to say I told you so,
But you're to blame for this. If you
Had told the truth at first, you know,
Jacinta would be yours right now.
I'm sorry, there's no remedy—
3105
Apologize and give her your hand,
She's quite a lovely girl, you see.

GARCÍA
I have no choice—here is my hand.

TRISTÁN
And now at last you understand!
Referring to the audience
And they do too! You can get stung
3110
By lying! The sword of truth gets rusted
When it isn't used. And on a lying tongue—
Like yours—even The Truth Can't Be Trusted!

THE END