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The Negroni (smiling). Did the gipsy say that it was to be in the night, or the morning?
Maffio. He said that it should be in the morning.
The Negroni. Your Bohemian did not know what he was saying. And you are friends with that young man ?
Maffio. As much as one man can be with another.
(He puts his arm round her waist.)
(She escapes.) Gubetta. (approaching Maffio ).--Your business goes on well with the princess.
Maffio. She always says “No” to me.
Jeppo ('coming up to Maffio).-What do you think of the Princess Negroni ?
Maffio. She is adorable! Between ourselves, she begins to work upon my heart most furiously.
Jeppo. And her supper?
Jeppo ( to Gubetta).-Monsieur de Belverana, you would hardly think that Maffio was afraid of supping at the princess's ?
Gubetta. Afraid !-why?
Jeppo ( in a whisper to Maffio), What I like in this Belverana is, his thorough hatred of the Borgias.
Maffio ( in a whisper). True, he never misses an occasion of sending them to the devil with a most particular grace. Nevertheless, my dear Jeppo
Jeppo. Well ?
The reader will observe that it is not my fault if the Count Orsini and the Princess Negroni bebave a little too much like a young Oxonian and a Dover chambermaid.
Maffo. I have watched this pretended Spaniard from the beginning of the supper; he bas drunk nothing but water.
Jeppo. What! at your suspicions again, my good friend Maffio! The effect of your wine is strangely monotonous!
Maffio. Perhaps so; I am stupid.
Gubettă (retiring, and looking at Maffio from head to footi). Do you know, Monsieur Maffio, that you are built to live ninety years, and that you are just like my grandfather, who did live to those years and was called, like myself, Gil-Basilio-Fernan-Ireno-Felipe-Frasco Frasquito Comte de Belverana ?
Jeppo (in a whisper to Maffio). I hope you do not now doubt of his being a Spaniard— he has at least twenty Christian names! What a litany, Monsieur de Belverana !
Gubetta. Alas! our parents have the habit of giving us more names at our baptism than crowns at our marriage. But what are they, laughing at down there ?—(Aside.) — Those women must have same pretext to get away-what's to be done ?-( He returns and sits down to table.)
Oloferno. ( drinking). By Hercules, I never passed a more delicious evening! Ladies, taste this wine; it's softer than Lacryma Christi, more generous than the wine of Cyprus! Here, this is the wine of Syracuse, my seigneurs !
Gubetta (eating). Oloferno's drunk, it seems.
Oloferno. Ladies, I must tell you some verses that I have just made. I wish I were more of a poet than I am, in order that I might celebrate such admirable women!
Gubetta. And I wish I were more rich than I am, in order to present my friends with just such other women.
Oloferno. Nothing is so agreeable as to sing the praise of a good supper and a beautiful woman !
Gubetta. Except to kiss the one and eat the other.
Oloferno, Yes, I wish I were a poet; I would raise myself to heaven-I wish I had two wings !
Gubetta. Of a pheasant in my plate.
Gubetta. By the devil, Monsieur Marquis Oloferno Vitellozzo, I dispense you from telling your sonnet! Leave us to drink.
Oloferno. You dispense me from my sonnet ?
Gubetta. As I dispense the dogs from biting me, the pope from blessing me, and the people the street from pelting me.
Oloferno. By God's head, I believe, little Spanish gentleman, that you mean to insult me!
Gubetta. I don't insult you, colossus of an Italian ; I don't choose to listen to your sonnet -nothing more. My throat thirsts more after the Syracusan wine than my ears after poetry.
Oloferno. Your ears, you Spanish rascal-I'll nail them to your heels! Gubetta. You are a foolish beast! Fie! did one ever hear of such a lout,
* Rather singular language in a Princess's palace, and addressed to her and her friends!
to get drunk with Syracusan wine and have the air of being sottish with beer?
Oloferno. I'll cut you into quarters, that will I!
Gubetta (still carving a pheasant). I won't say as much for you; I dont carve such big fowls. Ladies, let me offer you some pheasant.
Oloferno (seizing a knife). Pardieu! I'll cut the rascal's belly open, were be more of a gentleman than the emperor himself !
The Women (rising from the table). Heavens! they are going to fight! The Men. Come, come, Oloferno! (They disarm Oloferno, who attempts to rush upon Gubetta. While they
are doing this, the women disappear.) Oloferno (struggling). By God's body,
Gubetta. Your rhymes are so rich with God, my dear poet, that you have put these ladies to flight. You are a terrible bungler !
Jeppo. It's very true : where the devil are they gone to?
Oloferno (menacing Gubetta). I'll find you again to-morrow, my little devil
ing.) That idiot! to send away the prettiest women in Ferrara with a knife. wrapped up in a sonnet! To quarrel about rhymes !-I believe indeed he has wings. It is not a man, it's a bird—it perches; it ought to sleep on one leg, that creature Oloferno.
Jeppo. There, there, gentlemen, let's have peace—you 'll cut one another's throats gallantly to-morrow : by Jupiter! you 'l fight, at all events, like gentlemen with swords, and not with knives!
Ascanio. Apropos ! what have we done with our swords ?
Gubetta. And a good precaution too, or we should have been fighting before ladies, a vulgarity that would bring blushes into the cheek of a Fleming drunk with tobacco !
Gennaro. A good precaution, in sooth!
Maffio. Pardieu! brother Gennaro, those are the first words that have passed your lips since the beginning of the supper, and you don't drink! Are you thinking of Lucrèce Borgia, Gennaro 2. Decidedly you have some little loveaffair with her-don't say “no.”
Gennaro. Give me to drink, Maffio ! I won't abandon my friends at the table any more than I would in the battle.
A black Page, with two bottles in his hand. My lords, the wine of Cyprus or of Syracuse ! Maffio, Syracusan wine, that's the best.
(The black page fills all the glasses.) Jeppo. The plague seize thee, Oloferno! are those ladies not coming back again ?—He goes successively to the two doors.)- The doors are fastened on the other side, gentlemen.
Maffio. Now, Jeppo, don't you in your turn be frightened ; they don't wish we should follow them, nothing can be more simple than that.
Gennaro. Let us drink, gentlemen!
(They bring their glasses together.) Maffio. To thy health, Gennaro ! and may'st thou soon recover thy mother! Gennaro. May God hear thee!
(All drink, except Gubetta, who throws his wine over his shoulder.) Maffio (in a whisper to Jeppo). This time, at all events, Jeppo, I saw it clearly.
Jeppo (whispering). What?
Gubetta. Come, a song, gentlemen! I am going to sing you å
Jeppo (to Maffio, whispering). He is more than drunk; the fellow's a
Domino ! domino !
( They clash their glasses together and laugh loudly. All of a sudden,
one hears distant voices, which sing in a mournful key.) Voice without. Sanctum et terribile nomen ejus, initium sapientiæ timor Domini !
Jeppo (laughing still louder). Listen, gentlemen; by the body of Bacchus, while we are singing “to drink,” Echo is singing "to pray!”
All. Listen !
Voice without (a little nearer). Nisi Dominus custodierit civitatem, frustra vigilat qui custodit eam.
(They all burst out laughing.)
Voice without, and which comes nearer and nearer. Oculos habent et non videbunt, nares habent et non odorabunt, aures habent et non audient.
(All laughing louder and louder.) Jeppo. Trust the monks for bawling!
Maffio. Look, Gennaro; the lamps are going out here-a minute more, and we shall be in darkness.
(The lamps get pale, as if for want of oil.)
Voice without, still nearer. Manus habent et non palpabunt, pedes habent et non ambulabunt, non clainabunt in gutture suo.
Gennaro. It seems to me as if the voices approached.
Jeppo. It seems to me as if the procession were at this moment under our windows.
Maffio. They are the prayers of the dead.
Gubetta. Speak, then, more politely; one says Mr. St. Peter, honourable holder of the patent place of gaoler, and door-keeper of Paradise.
To his wine, has a paunch,
Is't a man-or a cask ?
De profundis ad te, Domine ! (Then they arrange themselves on the two sides of the room, and stand
immoveable as statues, while the young gen een regard them stu
pified.) Maffio. What does this mean?
Jeppo (forcing a laugh). It's some joke.I'll lay my charger against a pig, and my name of Liveretto against the name of Borgia, that they are our charming ladies who have disguised themselves in this fashion to try our courage, and that if we lift up one of those hoods, we shall find under it the fresh and wicked face of a pretty dame. Let's see!
(He raises, laughingly, one of the capuchins, and stands petrified at
seeing under it the livid face of a monk, who stands motionless; the torch in his hand, and his eyes bent to the ground. He lets the cowl
fall and totters back.) This begins to be strange!