(La discreta enamorada
Translated by Vern G. Williamsen

IN  LOVE BUT  DISCREET  (La  discreta  enamorada) was  first  performed  at  the
University of Missouri-Columbia on February 28, 1986. 
Directed by Weldon B. Durham 
Scenery and Lighting by Patrick Atkinson 
Costume Design by Jim Miller 
The cast was as follows: 


 Jennifer Allton 


 Julie Karr 


 Jeff Portell 


 Rob Dillon 


 Trent Kendall 


 Judy Dickherber 


 Joe Gately 


 Kirk Wishon 


 Richard Hinschberger 


 Tracey Rabus 


 Quentin Kuyper 

 Julie Youmans 

LUCINDO - a young gallant in his mid-twenties 
CAPTAIN - a widower, forty-six years old 
HERNANDO - man servant to Lucindo 
DORISTEO - a young gallant in his mid twenties 
FINARDO - a young friend of Doristeo 
FULMINATO - older servant to the Captain 
FENISA - a young lady, near twenty years old 
BELISA - her mother, a widow about forty years old 
GERARDA - a young woman, courtesan of free-living reputation 
BEATRIZ - maid servant to Fenisa and Belisa, young.  A non-speaking role


Locale 1:   A street in the Madrid of 1606
BELISA and FENISA, wearing "mantos"1
BELISA: Fenisa, get your eyes on the ground! You don't need to look around. FENISA: What? Not even at the sky? BELISA: Don't talk back! FENISA: I'm not surprised. If God, with singular insight, used his limitless, sacred might to make men that stood up straight so that they would see the place they could eventually hope to go, and animals for the earth below with eyes directed at the ground, why must mine look only down? BELISA: Heaven is seen with the mind alone. True virtue is found only at home., "Modesty in a maiden is treasure divine: use it and naught but good can derive; lose it and thousands of evils arise." If you want, there's plenty of time, Fenisa, in your room or in mine, for contemplating the glories of heaven. FENISA: I'm no nun! Don't waste the sermon. If your reason for bringing me here is to torture me, mother dear, wouldn't your ends be better achieved leaving me at home, under lock and key? BELISA: Don't exaggerate. FENISA: All the time, you're after me, or after my eyes. When did they give you reason...? BELISA: It's because of the Holy Season. That's reason enough to guard your eyes. Don't get upset. I know I'm right. "A beautiful girl is like a babe, an evil eye sends either to the grave." Here in Madrid there are lots of young men whose burning look has deadly effect. FENISA: How? BELISA: Their fire reaches your heart not scorching the gown. FENISA: I'm too smart to be easily fooled that way. BELISA: As your sainted grandmother used to say: "The maid who ventures out on the street, like the doe that hunters happen to meet, is lost when she spies the glint in their eyes: one spark and she falls at their feet." FENISA: How can I marry if I'm never seen? BELISA: Anything is possible. FENISA: Explain that, please. What do you mean? BELISA: The game is played by keeping your virtue and guarding your name. FENISA: "When a fortune in money of land is lacking it seems that beauty's a girl's true backing." Men want more now than virtue and health. BELISA: What more? FENISA: Good looks and wealth.
LUCINDO enters with GERARDA, a courtesan, and his servant HERNANDO2
GERARDA: So, I'm your love? LUCINDO: That you can say. GERARDA: You do talk big. LUCINDO: Men talk that way. FENISA: (There's Lucindo). GERARDA: What a braggart! LUCINDO: Braggart! Now who's being smart? FENISA: (Me, love him? How silly of me! He's not interested; I must be crazy.) GERARDA: When it comes to a talkative lover, I'm cruel. My taste, you'll discover, doesn't run to fooling around. LUCINDO: You make me laugh. GERARDA: A bucket of frowns won't get you one drop of my love. LUCINDO: Let my devotion calm you, my dove. If my crime is having been nice to some woman who was passing by, I also said I love you, my dear. GERARDA: Take that stuff and get out of here. Go to the Indies with your bauble and beads. Hook someone there, you'll never get me. I have to be hit with solid gold, anything less won't do, you know. FENISA: (Such love for someone I've never met? Can it be? Is it possible? Not yet.)
DORISTEO enters with FINARDO. They are opposite LUCINDO and GERARDA
FINARDO: They came this way. DORISTEO: What's he like? FINARDO: Well-dressed. DORISTEO: Is that...? FINARDO: It's them, all right. GERARDA: Do you see that man coming over there? LUCINDO: I do. GERARDA: Well, we make a pair. My love for you has been a good joke. Good-bye. He's waiting for me, you know. GERARDA moves across to join DORISTEO and FINARDO LUCINDO: What happened here? HERNANDO: She shot you down. LUCINDO: Should I go after her? Tell me how. HERNANDO: Do you love her? LUCINDO: So much I'm burning. HERNANDO: Then we need cold water! There's no earning the love of that woman. GERARDA: (To Doristeo) You caught my eye. DORISTEO: You tamed my temper. It's just that I saw you standing beside that clown who's over there strutting about. you're here. Take my thanks and my arm. GERARDA: You come with me. DORISTEO: Where to? GERARDA: To the park.
GERARDA, DORISTEO, and FINARDO exit. BELISA and FENISA are to one side; LUCINDO and HERNANDO on the other
LUCINDO: They've gone! HERNANDO: In a big hurry. she's only teasing you. Don't worry. LUCINDO: Who's that girl? HERNANDO: She lives across the street with her watchdog mother. Getting a peace3 in Ireland would be easier. FENISA: (How can I?4 Love someone who doesn't know I'm alive?) LUCINDO: I've never seen her before. FENISA: (Some way, I must resist my feelings. Some day, I'll manage to let him see my face. Has any woman ever been so insane?) HERNANDO: I give you my word. If you could get a good look, I'm sure you'd forget Gerarda. Fenisa's sweet, she's nice, she's wise, but if she's caught the eye of your father.... LUCINDO: My father! HERNANDO: It may be the other. It would be more fitting he marry the mother.5 LUCINDO: At his age? Get married? HERNANDO: I have observed him watching the lady; she's well-preserved... LUCINDO: I'm so jealous I'm pulling my hair. So how can you expect me to look elsewhere? HERNANDO: She is good looking. LUCINDO: A jealous man wants only one woman. FENISA: (A very good plan! I know how to start this play: I'll drop my hanky when we pass his way. When he gives it back, he'll have a chance: a real good look. If he'll only glance into my eyes and see the love hidden there...) HERNANDO: Look at those eyes. In love, I'd swear... or ready for love at least. BELISA: It's time, Fenisa. Let's go. HERNANDO: They're coming by. Open your eyes, notice her beauty. LUCINDO: A real angel! Or, so it seems. As BELISA and FENISA pass, FENISA drops her hanky HERNANDO: Her handkerchief! LUCINDO: I'll get it for her. LUCINDO picks it up and runs after them Ladies, please wait. FENISA: Something for you, sir? LUCINDO: You dropped your 'kerchief. FENISA: Perhaps, I'll see... LUCINDO: But... FENISA: ...if mine is still up my sleeve.6 FENISA removes her "manto" and starts to search her clothing BELISA: What are you doing? FENISA: Not here I see. BELISA: What is he doing? FENISA: He's giving it to me. BELISA: What? LUCINDO: (What a beauty!) FENISA: I'll soon find out. It's not here either. HERNANDO: (Sweet and soft! Enough to drive a sane man giddy!) FENISA: I'll look in my purse.7 BELISA: Stop! FENISA: I'll hurry. Not here. BELISA: Let's go! FENISA: Not here either. BELISA: What's keeping you? FENISA: Is it embroidered? LUCINDO: Yes. FENISA: With lace? LUCINDO: Can't you see? BELISA: We've been here too long, out on the street. Anyone could see you as they pass by. FENISA: You think I should take it if it's not mine? LUCINDO: I'll trust you with it. FENISA: Is there a place with worn embroidery? LUCINDO: Next to the lace. FENISA: Which side? BELISA: Stop fooling. LUCINDO: I'm sure it's yours. BELISA: Let's go. Young man, inside the church door, there's a place that's near the baptismal font...8 FENISA takes the handkerchief from LUCINDO FENISA: (I hope Cupid sharpened his arrow.) BELISA: Let's go! FENISA: I'm coming. FENISA turns to follow her mother but then turns back HERNANDO: Look at her. LUCINDO: I can't see... My jealousy... FENISA: Oh, sir! LUCINDO: What can I do? FENISA: I wanted to say: if the real owner shows up some day, you may, since I'm not sure it's mine, tell her I live on the Street of the Vines... HERNANDO: (How graceful! What a shape! How discreet!) FENISA: ...near the Captain Bernardo. Across the street. LUCINDO: That's my father! FENISA: (Tell me how love burns.) BELISA: Are you insane? FENISA: Just now this man was saying he's our neighbor. BELISA: Let's go. FENISA: (Dear God, grant me this favor.) BELISA and FENISA exit HERNANDO: What do you think? LUCINDO: She's really sweet. She's beautiful, bewitching, and discreet. But love for Gerarda has me tied down. "Jealousy's swampy, treacherous ground. The strongest of men are caught in it's snare." It's a terrible thing when a woman dares to seek revenge, playing up to another. Even if my love had been much smaller, seeing her do what it was she did was enough to drive me out of my head. HERNANDO: Loose women, it seems, get the most love; but without honor, they're really lost. "When an honest women suffers disdain, her lover won't care if she complains. He already knows she'll stay at home, rotting in her room, but safely alone." These easier women don't fool around. Their lover's foot hardly touches the ground when they give consolation a try with any one of a thousand men. LUCINDO: That's why: "Love for a loose woman disappears fast, love for a good one will always last." HERNANDO: "Men still wet behind the ears use their swords to calm their fears."9 But I still have hope for you. Some day, you'll see the truth of what I say. LUCINDO: Gerarda's given me cause to feel... HERNANDO: Any woman, as crazy as she is free, is like a monkey who wants to play games with the children every day. Let a man with a big stick10 come to straighten her out and she's all undone She sits quietly picking at fleas,11 ready to jump if her lord should sneeze. Women love playing around with men who're young and inexperienced but with a mature and able master they do what he says, and they do it faster. Gerarda saw that you were hooked but not worn out, and having others to cook, she's letting you play, giving you the line of jealousy on jealousy, time after time. LUCINDO: What can I do? HERNANDO: Try to find a beautiful solution. LUCINDO: Do you have in mind a cure for love? HERNANDO: Certainly! LUCINDO: What? HERNANDO: Another love. LUCINDO: Let's not talk about it any more. We'll wait and see how it all winds up. HERNANDO: It's clear to me: she's using her wiles to make you fall. Lucindo, a wise man used to call jealousy the finest of fishing fear. It can be used any time of the year to catch honor, wealth, and fame. I think that you would be ashamed that a fishing rod, made from a reed12 weak enough to bend in the breeze, could be used to catch you. Your bait is wealth; jealousy is your line. Just wait. Money not youth should hang from your thread. On women, another wise man once said: "The web a woman weaves is like that of a spider, the victim it deceives is weaker, not the stronger." Tell me, does it bother you when I try to teach you about the facts of life? LUCINDO: Just don't get boring. You think you see that I'm caught by love, that I'm not free, that I'm only a fly caught in her net... HERNANDO: What kind? A fruit fly?13 LUCINDO: You say I'm all wet, just a simple fish following her bait. Let's go visit, it's not too late. I think that she has hooked my heart. HERNANDO: I fear you'll make some trouble. LUCINDO: As a start! HERNANDO: God in Heaven! What a stupid waste! LUCINDO: But what fine bait! What spicy taste! LUCINDO and HERNANDO exit Locale 2: A room in BELISA'S house
BELISA and FENISA enter removing their clogs 14 and "mantos"
BELISA: Where's your manto? FENISA: Off. BELISA: Here's mine. Put them both away. FENISA: I'm surprised that you're so angry. May God help me! What have I done? How can it be that everything I do is wrong? BELISA: Don't I know what was going on? But then I'm getting what I deserve. If you were locked up, you might preserve your good name. You'd have no time to... FENISA: If, by some miracle, I make it through the holidays and your anger with me, I'd really prefer you not let me free. BELISA: I don't believe you. FENISA: What have I done to make you complain so? BELISA: I can't condone your freedom of action. FENISA: What freedom? BELISA: Didn't I see? Why didn't you come? FENISA: What young man showing off his wares ever made me the object of his stares? Has even one thrown pebbles at my shutters hoping I'd answer with heart all-aflutter? Have you seen me signal to one in church? Has one come following me in search of love? What is it that you fear? Has any procuress15 come around here? What love note from some young man have you ever found in my hand? What pen? What ink? Tell me. Do. What gifts do I get from any but you? What clogs? What veil? BELISA: I want to prevent exactly that... without argument. I'm not complaining about what you've done. FENISA: What then? BELISA: What you've left undone. Guard yourself from the things you've mentioned. You must think of your own protection; new bars on the door, an extra key... FENISA: (Does she think that would ever stop me?) BELISA: What are you saying? FENISA: That I'll gladly do just as you wish: not argue with you. When you were young, were you a saint? BELISA: Not even once was there ever a taint of gossip that could be laid at my feet. At home, in the church, and on the street, I kept my eyes under lock and key.16 FENISA: Then tell me how you managed to have me? BELISA: Heaven, seeing my virtue, recognized my need. God knows all. FENISA: Your sister told me that you made novenas to St. Anthony. BELISA: Me? For a husband? FENISA: Seeking matrimony! She also said you fasted on Friday just like a hermit, and that was your way of getting the husband you always wanted. BELISA: She's lying! My mind was never haunted by such thoughts. Rather a nun than marry for pleasure as others have done. FENISA: Then why were so jealous of my father? May he rest in peace! BELISA: Dear daughter, because there was no money or jewelry that he wouldn't give to some beauty he found down the block. I wanted to try to save something for you. There is a knock at the door FENISA: A knock, shall I? BELISA: Yes, you go and see who's there. FENISA goes to look out the window FENISA: It's the Captain. BELISA: I think I'm aware of exactly what it is he wants. FENISA: You know already? How could you? BELISA: He's watched the house for days. I think he likes me. I've shown contempt, but you will see. He probably want to ask for my hand. He's rich and well-bred, so it's not all bad. FENISA: Pardon me mother, for wanting to laugh. BELISA: What about? FENISA: How it all came to pass. How you were a saint right here on earth, at home, on the street, and in the church. Please tell me what the Captain has done to give you ideas? (Oh, what fun! I certainly hope I can follow her lead.) BELISA: He's a very rich man and we need a man in the house. He'd be a good father. FENISA: But listen to me. It seems such a bother if it's all for me. BELISA: It's only because a man in the house makes other men pause. FENISA: Well then, let me be the one to marry and the burden would be my man's to carry. BELISA: If there had been a serious offer, I'd have agreed... to guard your honor. FENISA: You could argue that. BELISA: It's you he'd guard. FENISA: But a husband of my own, even if it's hard, wouldn't he be better protection? BELISA: Certainly, but the Captain has a son. Perhaps we can arrange that, too. FENISA: (Lucindo, my love, let's hope that they do.) The CAPTAIN Bernardo enters with fulminato, he servant CAPTAIN: Since it took so long to answer the door, I didn't wait for permission. What for? I assumed that as your neighbor since coming to Madrid after the war, it was only right we should meet. BELISA: (Think how much he must want me!) We'd have been disturbed, dear sir, if you hadn't come. This house is yours. Bring the chair, Fenisa, please.
The CAPTAIN sits 17 and the ladies go off to one side to prepare
CAPTAIN: You, go outside and wait for me. FULMINATO exits BELISA: I'm bothered, Fenisa, and unprepared. I wasn't ready. Is my cap on straight? FENISA: You never looked better. BELISA: How's my face? FENISA: Just fine. BELISA: Have my eyes just a trace of the fire inside? FENISA: What a notion! BELISA: How do I look? FENISA: Worthy of devotion. BELISA: I don't hear any love in your voice. FENISA: (Oh, you saints by privation not choice! "Old ladies unable to enjoy what they eat are envious of those who still have their teeth." But I'm not shocked. She is a woman.) BELISA: Today I was careless with my make up. FENISA: Don't flutter about, mother. BELISA: How's that? FENISA: He'll fall asleep waiting. BELISA: Oh, drat! I'm finished and ready to play the game. FENISA: (Your cheeks should be colored...with shame.) BELISA sits near the CAPTAIN BELISA: Now, dear Captain, I'm ready to chat. CAPTAIN: My dear Belisa, I'm glad to hear that. Belisa, having become your neighbor and kept my eye on your house for some time now, I've had reason to learn about your virtues and your worth. I see everything that happens here, day and night. Also, as is usual in one who is about to marry, I've inquired about you and know all about your family. Because even in someone my age, virtue and beauty can stir up feelings that some people think ought better be put to rest as one gets older, I have come here today with a proposal of marriage. I'm younger than I look, but years of running off to strange places, and even stranger climates, bearing arms, sleeping out-of-doors, walking dusty roads, traveling under sail, experiencing all kinds of military dangers, riding through sleepless nights on rented nags, from Spain to Flanders and back, have worn away the body that I had as a younger man. The Emperor Charles --may the Good Lord keep him--said it all when he said that his travels at sea and on horseback had made him old by the time he was forty-six--my age exactly--.18 I was born in the sixties and the Duke and Duchess of Alba--may their light eternally dawn over Spain-- were my godparents.19 Since then I've seen journeys and traveled enough roads that even if I were a man of steel, I'd have been worn out. After all, ladies, we are neighbors and older men are needed to keep a house and fortune in good order. Younger men are like moths in a woolen garment when it comes to money because they are just beginning to get out and around; older men have no need for such nonsense. Yet my age is not so great that it should offend either your values or your virtues. I am still limber and strong. I still eat and sleep well, and I can still manage to mount, and ride a horse. I don't believe I've been ill a day in my life. Only the hand of an enemy has ever taken my blood --that and a duel I had in Palermo many years ago. The one son I have is well grown now and will soon receive his commission as well as the title I have been negotiating for him. Consequently, he will not be a disturbing factor. FENISA: (Please, God. keep Lucindo here for a while.) CAPTAIN: He'll be leaving soon. Therefore, Belisa, I beg you most humbly to let me marry your daughter Fenisa. I expect to give her a good marriage settlement. In addition to which she will have the management of the small fortune my sword has earned for me. If she is not repelled at the thought of the great difference in our ages, she will soon enough discover that I'm not completely burned out. FENISA: My daughter! You want to marry my daughter? CAPTAIN: Give me her hand and I'd be honored. FENISA: (A sad day for me. I don't understand. I thought it was Mother. He wanted her hand. My hopes for Lucindo were only a dream. The dreams have soured that once were sweet.) BELISA: Weren't you proposing to me? CAPTAIN: Oh, no! BELISA: I was happy... but now that I know, I'm happier still. You heard what he said? FENISA: (The faith20 I felt, the life I dreamt, made my heart jump, now it'll break. Such fallacious faith, false faith, fake from the first! Perfidious, fraudulent faith in a dream that was there to be dreamt. I swear that I'll never again have faith.) Mother, how can this be if he came to ask for you? BELISA: Good Heavens above! That wasn't his intention. FENISA: (Sweet dreams of love! That's all they were! It was all a mistake, only a joke. I might as well say that dreams are only dreams after all.)21 BELISA: Fenisa, although I've seen my hopes fall, --I admit I'd hope to marry-- I feel better now since he asked through me for your hand in marriage. You are young, you are discreet. Now that it's done, you can convince yourself to accept. FENISA: At your age a woman is won by wealth, at mine she wants good looks. You elders have had your chance at youthful pleasures and are interested in what money brings: peace and quiet, gifts and things. Envious of youth, you search for these. But, to disobey you would deny my ideals. Right now I'm not well, I need a month's rest. Will you ask for some time before we are wed? BELISA: I can do that, and in such a way he'll thank me for the brief delay. BELISA goes to talk with the CAPTAIN FENISA: (To pretend to accept was really discreet; it will give me the chance to achieve my heart's desire. To refuse right away would make him angry. There'd be no way to see Lucindo. His expectations will give us a means of communication.) CAPTAIN: This all pleases me very much. I understand and I'll wait one month. But let me talk to her alone, I have something to say. FENISA: (I hope...) CAPTAIN: Dear Fenisa, Madrid's never seen anyone more resolute and discreet. The decision, in spite of your age, confirms your virtue and self-control. The terms you have set prove the quality of your honor. Having accepted me you've found a father and a protector. If God give me the strength and vigor, this gray beard will guard your virtue. The snow on my brow and the fire of your youth may not mix well, but the gold on your head and the silver on mine, once we are wed, will provide all the wealth we need. FENISA: Your worth and quality, as we've agreed, are a match for my years. Now, can we stop being so formal? I'm yours, after all. CAPTAIN: Mine, did you say? FENISA: And correctly, too. Having accepted, I belong to you. CAPTAIN: I think this calls for a celebration. All of Madrid... the entire nation... will applaud the games in the main square, if I can get a permit. FENISA: Stop there! Please, let's have no such commotion. CAPTAIN: All right, I'll give in to your notion, but if it weren't... FENISA: I've something to say. CAPTAIN: For you I'm all ears. FENISA: May God keep you safe. Now FENISA adopt the same ponderous tone the CAPTAIN had used Until today, I didn't know that Lucindo, the man who comes to your house form time to time, was your son. My mother was just telling me that when you came in. Since, he's your son, and you're to be my husband, if God grants me the health... CAPTAIN: What flowery words! By the living God! The sun of your sweet smile is melting the frost on my head. FENISA: I was trying to say, sir, that it's very important for you to stop him from chasing after me. CAPTAIN: My son has been bothering you? FENISA: If only he were doing so properly and discreetly, and with the courtesy due a woman of my station, I would not complain. I don't believe in such hypocrisy. CAPTAIN: What's he been doing? FENISA: He's been writing me love notes delivered by go-betweens, old ladies that he keeps sending to the house on pretended errands. He's gone so far as to try to get my friends to speak for him. And in all that time it doesn't seem that the thought of marriage has ever crossed his mind. CAPTAIN: The boy is mad! I beg you to forgive him. I'll go his bail this time and promise that he won't upset you in the future. FENISA: Now that he's almost my son, I beg you to be careful but still let him know exactly what it is I've complained about. I know I can trust your discretion in the matter. CAPTAIN: Leave your worries to me. Heaven keep you well. Belisa, I was just telling Fenisa of how I want to give her everything. I live only to serve her. May God preserve you until I return. You really must give me permission to do so again soon. BELISA: Heaven keep you too, Captain. The CAPTAIN exits Fenisa, see what good fortune the Lord brought us today! FENISA: Are you all that happy about it? BELISA: Can't you see that I am? FENISA: I think you're covering up your true feelings. BELISA: Why? FENISA: You wanted to marry him yourself. BELISA: Don't be ridiculous. Let's go in. BELISA exits FENISA: Oh, Lucindo, if you don't understand my message, you weren't born in Madrid..., or you lack discretion; but if you do understand and come looking for me, you were indeed, and are discreet. FENISA exits Locale 3: The street in front of GERARDA'S house LUCINDO and HERNANDO enter LUCINDO: Has he left yet? HERNANDO: He's taking his time. LUCINDO: I'm jealous of that. HERNANDO: He may find her house a place with much to show. He'll spend two weeks just getting to know his way around. I'd rather be a slave than to work for her even one day. LUCINDO: If he's so lucky as to be aboard Gerarda's galley, dipping his oar...22 --and he must be he's taking so long-- I'm envious. I hope that I'm wrong. Shall we wait for him to come ashore? How unlucky I am, Hernando. I adore that skillful, sly woman whose vanity seems easy prey for his flattery... and yet, her heart is made of steel. HERNANDO: It's only right that love makes one reel, but being loved should never raise those spectral bastards: Neglect and Disdain. LUCINDO: He's leaving now and she has come out. HERNANDO: For one more look at her beau, no doubt.
DORISTEO and FINARDO come out of GERARDA'S house onto the street. GERARDA appears on her balcony
GERARDA: (Lucindo is here!) LUCINDO: (Bad luck just grows.) DORISTEO: Isn't she elegant? FINARDO: Extremely so. As discreet as she is courtly. DORISTEO: And her shape! Just what I like! FINARDO: You've got it made, but Lucindo is there. DORISTEO: So he is. FINARDO: Oh, Lord! I wonder if he came to try out his sword?23 DORISTEO: I don't care why. I know she hates him. GERARDA: (He's jealous. Let the devil take him! Disdain and Neglect make a man come around. I'll stick it to him and pin him to the ground. I'll call Doristeo even though I can't stand him. Back up and start over. That ought to do it. I'll get what I want.) Please, sir. LUCINDO: Who, me? GERARDA: Not you. DORISTEO: You mean me? GERARDA: As you can see. LUCINDO: Got me! HERNANDO; Just being here is a shame. LUCINDO: Think, Hernando. We must find a way to convince her I'm here for another reason. What'll I do? GERARDA: Since this is the season, I'd like to go for a ride tonight. DORISTEO: Where? GERARDA: To the Prado if that's all right. Will you pick me up? DORISTEO: I'll be here at eight. LUCINDO: To go to the Prado! They've made a date! HERNANDO: Try to forget her. I do believe your jealousy's in need of some relief. DORISTEO: Is that all you want? GERARDA: Thank you, yes. DORISTEO: Good-bye then. FINARDO: Nothing more? DORISTEO: Let's go. FINARDO: Oh, yes!
DORISTEO and FINARDO exit. LUCINDO and HERNANDO are in the street. GERARDA is still on the balcony
LUCINDO: Why didn't I draw my sword to stop her from shooting at me? Good Lord! I've got to make her jealous of me. That might bring her around. You see? it's my bad luck that the heavens above won't let me bring her to love through love. HERNANDO: But what is your plan? LUCINDO: I'd really like to take a woman to the Prado tonight. Gerarda would see us and... Oh, what a blow! HERNANDO: Who would go with you? LUCINDO: That I don't know. HERNANDO: It'd be hard to find one now. LUCINDO: No matter. We'll put a manto on you. HERNANDO: I'd rather... You'd have to call me Madame the Terrible. LUCINDO: That's what I'll do. HERNANDO: You're crazy. LUCINDO: It's possible. Why not? HERNANDO: Why not? What if we meet Don Juan24 and he acts before he speaks? LUCINDO: I'll be there, Hernando. For now, you go ask Gerarda if she's seen a lady pass. HERNANDO: A good idea! I think that might do. You've tried loving, try jealousy too. Miss Gerarda! GERARDA: Hernando, is that you? HERNANDO: Yes, it is. GERARDA: I have some work to do. HERNANDO: Just listen a minute. GERARDA: A minute? I'll wait. HERNANDO: You show discretion and have good taste... GERARDA: Just say what you want. HERNANDO: I wanted to know which of these houses is... Estefania's home, so that dunce of a master won't take away the salary he owes me for today. He asked me to follow her and I lost track when I saw you here. GERARDA: Now that's a laugh. You go tell that fool of a master such tricks only invite disaster.
She turns toward LUCINDO
Oh, Sir Somber, why the tricks? Throw off the jealousy that's making you sick. Try some plain talk. Tell me the truth. How can you claim bravery as a virtue if just seeing me here has you shaking? Give me your wrist to feel the quaking of your pulse. Let me touch your brow. Dear Heaven, you're burning! What is it now? You, there, bring this man a swallow of orange-blossom water. HERNANDO: That's a low blow. GERARDA: Why do you need to make up stories for me? Trying to get even with me? With me? LUCINDO: I'm angry. HERNANDO: Me too. Do you know a poet? LUCINDO: What for? HERNANDO: To write a satirical poem that we can use, like a prescription against that witch.25 He can put her description into a gossipy song. We'll hang her in effigy. We'll buy a cowbell to use in the revelry. You get the costumes and we'll have a feast. By God...! LUCINDO: Be quiet, you ignorant beast. My love, my Gerarda... GERARDA: I must go, it's late. GERARDA exits LUCINDO: What? Where are you going? Please wait. Listen to your lover. Tell me why you hurt me this way. Why do I... HERNANDO: Does Estefania live here? LUCINDO: Stop that! HERNANDO: She went that way. She left at last. There's your father. LUCINDO: Coming this way? The CAPTAIN enters CAPTAIN: I've looked everywhere for you all day. LUCINDO: I can guess why you want to see me. You always complain that I'm too free, too restless, and stay out too late; but really it's all right to chase women at my age; a sign of daring that's proper to a man of bearing. If it's because she has no honor...26 CAPTAIN: No honor? What do you mean? Why for... Where did you get that scorpion tongue? Are you worthy to kiss her foot? Even the ground she has stepped upon? LUCINDO: I'm annoyed at what she has done, making me jealous with a man or two she claims to adore. CAPTAIN: What talk from you! About a fine lady! But then I must be the one you're talking about. It's me she loves. LUCINDO: She loves you, too? CAPTAIN: I have what it takes. LUCINDO: (I'm sure you do.) CAPTAIN: Speak up now. LUCINDO: I'm sorry you're here. She must have twenty more, I fear... CAPTAIN: You talk that way because you feel left out knowing she's accepted me. And such a nice lady! If the mourning wouldn't delay our marriage... One warning: I'd run you through. LUCINDO: You? Marry her? You might as well kill me. Just consider... CAPTAIN: What should I consider? Anything more? LUCINDO: She's little better than a common whore! CAPTAIN: (Now that makes me stop and think...but then, he may be trying to provoke me again to stop the wedding. Like a soldier who reflects the sun, aiming a mirror into the eyes of an approaching line, that fool wants to anger me with his advice. I'll go to Fenisa and take her his answer, but I have stopped to think and wonder.) The CAPTAIN exits HERNANDO: What about that? LUCINDO: I'm ready to kill. Break down those doors. LUCINDO pounds on GERARDA's doors HERNANDO: Not now! Be still! LUCINDO: Come out here right now, you witch. HERNANDO: Wait a minute. Calm down a bit. GERARDA comes again onto the balcony GERARDA: Knocking down my house, you silly clown? LUCINDO: What stops me from killing you now? GERARDA: A dagger for me? A very pretty play!27 LUCINDO: Why did you fool my father that way by saying you'd marry him? GERARDA: That's a good one you're trying to pull. Do you need a reason to come talk to me? LUCINDO: Tell me why I weaken when I see you. Why don't I just kill you right now? My father was here. He told me you'd marry him. How queer! GERARDA: Me? I've never seen him. That boob Hernando made it all up so you, Lucindo, could come see me. HERNANDO: Less contempt! He's telling the truth, not what I dreamt. GERARDA: Not so loud! HERNANDO: If I must whisper my lies, the truth I'll speak out loud. GERARDA: I'm surprised by your gall. LUCINDO: And I by your cheek. When did you see him? Where did you speak? How did he find you? GERARDA: What are you saying? I've never heard such crazy raving. LUCINDO: You've made him forget his graying hair. All women are devils. That I swear. GERARDA: You men are all angels, I suppose? Lucindo, are you afraid to show that you've been hurt by my disdain? Do I know your father? Isn't it plain what it is you're doing? LUCINDO: I pray if you marry you realize your mistake: that the old man lives two thousand years. You got him by fooling his eyes and his ears to get even with me. By God! What curse more inhuman, what oath more perverse, than to hope you awaken each day of the week lying beside that snow-capped peak? What more foul than to find your body beside the aging hulk of your hubby, like ice in the winter, a scarecrow in summer? When you're married, cruel stepmother, I'll kiss your hand, he'll kiss your mouth. What a choice! GERARDA: Hernando, tell me now, is this the truth or one of your plots? HERNANDO: I wish it were. GERARDA: I know your thoughts: when I made a date for the Prado tonight, you heard me and want to stop me. All right! I will have a coach and I will have some fun. We'll hire musicians before we are done. Please take your stunts to Estefania. There! LUCINDO: I'll kill you yet. GERARDA: Oh, I'm really scared! GERARDA exits HERNANDO: She left! LUCINDO: She closed the door, the bitch! Damn this love that makes me twitch! Please open the door, my love. Hernando, are her maids around? Look through the keyhole. HERNANDO: She sure knows how to get under your skin. LUCINDO: And flay me too. HERNANDO: Her efforts to win the old man were a success. LUCINDO: You can bet her beauty made him easy to get. The CAPTAIN enters CAPTAIN: Are you still here? LUCINDO: What a surprise! This house, these doors today are mine; tomorrow they may be yours. Can I so swiftly leave behind the one who is to be your bride? The woman I adore? CAPTAIN: I think you must have gone insane. You told me several terrible tales about that angel Fenisa. And reporting that made me lose face. I was lucky to get away safe from her mother, Belisa. You traitor! You caused the trouble. My wife-to-be is much more honorable, more virtuous than your mother. LUCINDO: Who is the subject of all this babble? CAPTAIN: Fenisa. LUCINDO: But she's more respectable than almost any other! The woman I was talking about, the strumpet who lives in this house, is Gerarda. CAPTAIN: What does she have to do with Fenisa, you lout? LUCINDO: Well, I was here when you bawled me out about some woman, you see? CAPTAIN: Now that is just another tale that you've invented. All with the aid of your servant buffoon. HERNANDO: Me? A tale? You've made a mistake. Like any man of a certain age, afraid of being fooled. CAPTAIN: Deny your love for Fenisa, now. LUCINDO: My love? CAPTAIN: Can you also disavow your notes and go-betweens? Well, she told me all about how you came last night to stand below her window, trying to see if she would talk. LUCINDO: Me, send notes? Or go-betweens? Me at her window? Hernando... CAPTAIN: A deposition? False eyes, flattering tongue, phony heart and soul! Feigned friend, faked view, forged word and oath!28 Hear my admonition: By heaven above, if I ever hear that you have even been passing near her house, her window, her door, you will never --and this is clear-- come into my house again. You hear? LUCINDO: But listen to me. CAPTAIN: What for? LUCINDO: Just one word. CAPTAIN: What word is that? LUCINDO: You can tell her for me she shouldn't act like a stepmother yet. If, before getting married, she began her wicked work... CAPTAIN: Get away, you ass! LUCINDO: Listen! CAPTAIN: That's all, the end! The CAPTAIN exits LUCINDO: What's going on? What's happening to me? Telling lies about me before I've seen or had a look at her face? HERNANDO: Isn't she the very same lady who looked at you so tenderly a little earlier today? LUCINDO: The very same! HERNANDO: Well, I'll be damned if this isn't all part of a plan to get a message to you. She must have fallen for you at that! LUCINDO: How could that have come to pass? HERNANDO: It did! It's God's own truth! I read four lines from the letter she wrote that was addressed to your simple soul and sent with her loving eyes. She tempted you by letting you hold her lace hanky and giving you hope. That is, if my eyes aren't blind. And all that stuff your father says about your writing and bothering ways is to tell you to write, to come to her window and make your claim. LUCINDO: How strange, Hernando! I'm amazed! HERNANDO: What's to lose if you try? LUCINDO: Nothing, Hernando, nothing at all. With her fine face, her bright resolve, her art of being clever, that young lady's just what I want to loosen the bonds and let me fall out of love with the other. We'll go call on her tonight. If it's true and you are right, if it's all a means to bring me there, it's a daring sign of her discretion, a delightful device this world has never seen. HERNANDO: And it's important that she love you. Think of the legacy29 you stand to lose if your father should remarry. That loss is greater, whatever you do, than losing the love of that lying fool with whom you want to tarry. If he does want to take a new wife, Belisa would give him a more fitting life than would Fenisa, I vow. LUCINDO: If she loves me, Hernando, I might order new britches for you as a prize. HERNANDO: Place the order right now. LUCINDO: If she were able to fool those two in spite of their age and experience too; if, with great discretion, she were able to make good use of this opportunity she's run into; if having felt affection for someone she's hardly had time to inspect, she could let him know her soul's intent; if she could also foresee his response, knowing he'd comprehend; in talking of her, it might well be said: she's IN LOVE BUT DISCREET. END OF ACT ONE

1.  Throughout this  scene, in spite of the
fact that  the mother Belisa  is remonstrating with  her daughter
about her desire to see  and be seen, she gives Fenisa  plenty of
opportunity  to  do as  she  wishes,  underscoring the  hypocrisy
behind her speeches. Back to document 

2.   At the time the play was  written,  the
ladies  of Madrid  would  not appear  in  public without  a  head
covering  that  hid  nearly  all  of  their  faces,  occasionally
allowing only one eye to be seen.  Gerarda appears  on stage with
no head covering.   The theatrical sign,  therefore, implies that
she  is  a  coutesan.    For  a  modern  audience,  another  more
recognizable sign, might have to be used.  Back to document 

3.   The  implied pun here  replaces another
racy   pun  that  was  lost  elsewhere  in  the  scene,  but  the
translation,  as  it stands,  is  direct  from  the original.  Back to document 

4.  Here  we see that Fenisa has  really set
her cap for Lucindo and that she has been aiming in his direction
for some time. Back to document 
5.   An evident forshadowing  of what is  to
come. Back to document 

6.  These actions, in which the lady searches
through  her clothing, rearranging things as she goes in order to
allow  a gallant a  good view  of what  is in  store for  him, are
repeated  often in the theater of the  Golden Age as was shown in
Sturgis  Leavitt's  article  on  striptease in  the  comedia.  Back to document 
7.   The purse  to which  Fenisa refers  was
carried  beneath the lady's skirts and was reached through a slit
in  the  side panels  of  the  skirt.  Back to document 

8.  The "lost and found".Back to document 

9.  An obvious use of phallic imagery to
refer to the sexual habits of Lucindo's youth.Back to document 

10.  Phallic imagery again.Back to document 

11.   Fleas were an all  too common problem
of the period. Back to document 

12.  Note that the  fishing rod referred to
was  a cane without anything like a  modern reel.  Fishermen used
to   "horse  in"   their   catch.   Back to document 

13.  Another reference to Lucindo's lack of
maturity. Back to document 
14.  When ladies went out onto the street in
seventeenth-century  Madrid,  they  wore  their  usual  household
slippers  that were strapped to clogs (chopines) that were enough
to  lift them  and their skirts  above the  level of  the mud and
muck.  Some of these reached  ridiculous heights being as much as
sixteen inches  high.  This gave rise to jokes about their use as
weapons with which to beat the head of a too-ardent swain as well
as to the  fact that the ladies often tripped  or fell when using
them.  Back to document 

15.  The word "procuress" as used here really
refers to a "go-between" in the sense that older women and female
servants  were often  used in  arranging  amorous liaisons.   The
Spanish is clearly not referring to a marriage broker. Back to document 

16.  Here  Belisa's hypocrisy really comes to the fore. Back to document 

17.  The Spanish  ladies of the  day did not
sit on  chairs.  Chairs  were reserved for  men.  Women,  in part
because of the voluminous  dresses they wore, usually sat  on the
floor  on cushions,  usually on  a platform  or estrado  that was
designed to lift them above the drafts and cold of a tiled floor.
Back to document 

18.  And the exact  age of Lope de Vega, the
author,  when he  composed this  text. Back to document 

19.  The Dukes of  Alba are, to this day, the
wealthiest  of all  Spanish  nobility. Back to document 

20.   In  Spanish, when a  woman or a  cat is
spitting mad,  the verb used  is afufarse.   The poet  Lope wrote
this passage with a  surfeit of alliterated f's to  reinforce the
situation.   Later on it  is the Captain who  uses this technique
when   speaking   to   Lucindo.      Back  to document 

21.   The original  Spanish is "que  los sueños
sueños  son."    This  line comes  from  a  popular  song  of the
preceeding century and is found repeatedly in Spanish Golden  Age
drama,  most   notably  in  Calderón's   Life  is  a   Dream.  Back to document 

22.  Again phallic imagery.   Back to document 

23.  Another phallic image.   Back to document 
24.  The reference is to the public libido of the Spanish male. Back to document 

25.  Lope, the poet, was in trouble early in
his career for writing just such  verse.  He satirized the entire
family, including ancestors who may or may not have been married,
of  a young  woman who broke  off a  relationship with  him for a
wealthier client.   As a result he was banished  from court for a
period  of  four years  and  given  thirty days  to  wind up  his
affairs.   During that period  he wrote further  such satires and
his punishment was doubled.Back to document 

26.  Here begins a long series of "equívocos"
or misunderstandings in which each person speaks of what he is 
thinking to another whose mind is elsewhere.Back to document 

27.    The   first  of  many  self-conscious
references to the  work that is being presented as  being a play.
These  tend to being the audience into closer contact with actors
as complices in  the theatrical endeavor.  Back to document 

28.  In the original, Lope uses the adjective
falso a total of six times.  Here, after hearing the lines spoken
in  English, I chose to replace those with synonyms that retained
the alliteration. Back to document 

29.   The reality of  Spanish society of  the
times  was that marriages were,  indeed, a way  of preserving and
increasing wealth rather than satisfying a mutual desire.  Back to document 

In Love but Discreet, Act II

Electronic text by Vern G. Williamsen and J T Abraham
Additional formatting by Matthew D. Stroud

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Association for Hispanic Classical Theater, Inc.

Most recent update: 28 Jun 2002