(La verdad sospechosa)
Juan Ruiz de Alarcón

A Verse Translation by Dakin Matthews

This text was prepared and presented to this collection by Dakin Matthews (see its publication data in our Bibliography of Comedias in English Translation). He originally prepared the text in electronic form and this was, in turn, set in HTML by Vern Williamsen in 1998.

List of speakers in this play:


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 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! 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 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: 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, 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 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, 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 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 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- 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 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, 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: 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 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 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, 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-- 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, 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, 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 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 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, 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 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, 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. 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 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, 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 Of such a noble family. He's generous and bold, He's witty, wise, articulate, Open, devout, and temperate Usually, though not yet old 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, 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: 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, 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. 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: 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 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 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 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 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, 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 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. 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 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, 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 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 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-- 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 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 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, 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, 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, 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, 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. 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 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, 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 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: 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: 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 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- 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. 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 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, 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, 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. 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 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 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, 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. 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, 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-- 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, 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: 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 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 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, 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. 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 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 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, 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: 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. 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. 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 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: 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 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 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 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 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. 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. 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: 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, 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? 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 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 In my heart; you don't even know your own. You accuse me unjustly of some offense.
Aside to GARCÍA
TRISTÁN: (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 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: (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 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, 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, 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: 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 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, 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: (I never saw such a man before.)
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: Here's the shopwindow, look around, Pick out what you like--my treat, as I said.
TRISTÁN: (Sir, you're way in over your head.) GARCÍA: (Tristán, I have already drowned.)
ISABEL speaks aside to the ladies
ISABEL: (Here comes Don Juan.) JACINTA: I'm very grate- 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 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: 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: 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 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, 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. 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: 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 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, 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: 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: 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, 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: 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. 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 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 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: 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 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: (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: 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 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 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: (I'm so jealous I may go mad!) Aside Well, then, you might as well confess 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 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, You know, a courtier like me-- I've got nothing better to do-- (Than roast in the flames of my jealousy.)
Aside to Don JUAN DE SOSA
FÉLIX: (The heavens are kind, and even without Your asking, see how they go about 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: 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 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, 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 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 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 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. 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 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 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 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 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, 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. 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 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 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, 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, 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, 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 So improvise a tale of a fictitious meal That out-truths truth and out-reals real!)
Don FÉLIX and Don JUAN DE SOSA aside
JUAN DE SOSA: (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-- 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, 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, And be the cause of newfound admiration.
Don JUAN DE SOSA and Don FÉLIX aside
FÉLIX: (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 Makes him so restless and distracted!) JUAN DE SOSA: See How all he does confirms my jealousy! JUAN DE SOSA: 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 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 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 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 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 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: 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 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: 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, 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, 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 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 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 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, 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, 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. 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 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. 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; 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; 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 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: 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 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 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 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), 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 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 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, 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. 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-- 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 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-- 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. 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, 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, 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 You into the hall--if you don't mind.
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 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 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 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 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, 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 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, 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-- 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 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 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 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, 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 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 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 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 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: 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-- 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, 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 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, 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 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; 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 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 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 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! 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 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! 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 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 Is to promise to marry me. JACINTA: Today? I think my uncle's right out there.


The Truth Can't Be Trusted, Act II

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

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Most recent update: 28 Jun 2002