(Las paredes oyen)
by Juan Ruiz de Alarcón

Translated by Dakin Matthews

The Walls Have Ears is a new American translation by Dakin Matthews of Ruiz de Alarcón's Las paredes oyen. (Dakin is an actor, playwright, director, and Emeritus English Professor; Smith and Kraus published his earlier verse translation of Moreto's El desden con el desden, called Spite For Spite.) Because this is a performance-oriented translation and because it is in rhyming verse echoing when possible the original rhyme schemes of the the Spanish, it is necessarily somewhat looser and more colloquial than a typical academic translation might be. At the same time, it is exactly as many lines long as the original and tries to maintain an approximate line for line correspondence between the English and the Spanish both in meaning and in verse form. This translation is copyrighted, and a more complete version with introduction, notes, and appendices is available from Andak Theatrical Services, 4916 Vineland Ave., North Hollywood, CA 91601 (818 506-5436). The text provided by Dakin Matthews was transcribed in HTML by Vern G. Williamsen in March 1998.


Scene One
Madrid. A Street, and then the house of Doña ANA.
Enter JUAN, a gallant, and BELTRÁN, his servant
JUAN: Beltrán, I'm in a desperate case, There's such a huge disparity-- Though not in birth--between her and me, But in our gifts and social place. Her loveliness is past compare, Her shape so graceful and refined, It stirs sweet envy in Diana's mind, And dares the Spring to be as fair. Just take one look at her--how can I even hope--a man like me-- So poor, so plain--so totally Without a face? How, Beltrán? BELTRÁN: For a hunded years, a lovely lass Resisted the advances of Her gorgeous wooer, then fell in love At last, wrapped in the arms of an ass. The classical authors, I think, were right To give us these tales; and we should trust The lessons they teach (I may be just A servant, but I can read and write)-- And what they say is that Love is blind; The Empress Faustina, says one narrator, Fell in love with a gladiator-- So to be in love's to be out of your mind. Or think of Hippia, a lady well-bred And beautiful, who driven mad By a thousand base desires, had Ugly commoners brought to her bed! JUAN: How you can match women like these-- More full of lust than loveliness-- With Doña Ana I cannot guess-- No more such comparisons, please! It would be madness to expect Of her that kind of waywardness, Her beauty may be miraculous, But even more so's her self-respect. BELTRÁN: You're a Mendoza, are you not? In marrying you, where would there be A loss for her? JUAN: The fortune she Enjoys so far exceeds my lot In life, the little that I bring Would make me feel inferior. BELTRÁN: And that, you think, would injure her! So now you've named the real thing That's troubling you. But don't you see? If Lady Luck comes to assist you, It's really because she can't resist you When you're in this state of "disparity." Fortune goes along for the ride When Cupid shoots his shafts of love; There's a Temple in Greece that I've heard of Where the two were worshiped side by side. If love's your aim, and money won't make It happen, and good looks can't ensnare it, Then I'd trade centuries of merit For just a single lucky break. JUAN: But that's the thing that disheartens me-- I've never been a fortunate man. BELTRÁN: You can still be lucky in love--you can! Just keep both eyes open and both hands free. JUAN: But if she gives Don Mendo that glance Of favor, what hope is there for me? BELTRÁN: All that should do is make you see That love is purely a matter of chance. They all love him--it's just a game: Doña Ana and Dorothea; Doña Lucrecia wants to be a Slave to his love; at the sound of his name They drop down dead--they all adore him! JUAN: He's rich, he's gorgeous, he's a real swell! BELTRÁN: So was Apollo--and a god as well-- But Daphne managed to ignore him. And though she had no knowledge of Another man whose quality Could equal his, does that mean she, In rejecting him, was deficient in love? JUAN: Why are you carping at me like this? BELTRÁN: I'm only saying what's on my mind. JUAN: Not every thought need be refined Into a full-blown analysis. BELTRÁN: But saying something-- JUAN: Don't talk to me! And remember this--above everything: A man who's always nattering Holds in his mouth an enemy! BELTRÁN: Well, be as desperate as you want, You're going to her house. A love This deep can make a mockery of Your hopes. You won't give up--you can't! In a desert waste one still would roar To the sands for help; in the midst of the sea, And death by drowning a certainty, A man still paddles for the shore. JUAN: What takes an eternity to do, Love can accomplish in just one day-- And all resistance melts away. BELTRÁN: I know exactly what's happening to you-- I knew a gambler once who when He was losing bet after bet after bet, Would always say, "I'm not that upset"-- Over and over and over again. You tell me you're in complete despair; And in the midst of that hopelessness, You keep on trying nonetheless; What more would you do if hope were there? What exactly do you think hope is? Some kind of exotic marzipan That we're importing from Japan? I'll tell you what hope is--it's simply this: It's thinking that you might actually Get hold of something that appeals to you; When a man behaves as if something were true, He actually thinks it might well be.
He takes out a letter
JUAN: In this note I have all confessed; If there's no change in her disdain, Although my hopes may live again, All my attempts I lay to rest. BELTRÁN: A greedy merchant owned a ship, And every time he put to sea He always swore that this would be His absolutely final trip. Like you. At last you admit defeat-- I think!--you've seen the light--but no! With renewed vigor there you go, Marching down the middle of the street! So tell me something--what in the world Made you write down this confession of love? When you could pay a member of Her household to do it? A servant girl'd Be only too glad to speak for you; Why do it yourself? it doesn't make sense. JUAN: I don't want to risk giving offense To the lady that I'm trying to woo. It's a delicate thing, one's reputation-- A woman can even lose her honor If it's known some man has designs upon her, And she's the object of solicitation. I mean to protect my honor and hers-- And whether I fare well or ill, And whether she's pliant or stubborn still-- From the wagging tongues of slanderers. I would have kept what I intend Even from you, my dear Beltrán, But I don't really think of you as my man, I think of you as my good friend. BELTRÁN: Good Lord, is this the house she's got? One little widow lives in here? JUAN: She has six thousand ducats a year; If she can afford a palace, why not? BELTRÁN: Here comes Celia--
CELIA enters
CELIA: Your servant, sir. JUAN: Celia, my dear, if you would be So kind as to allow me to see Your mistress--I'd like to tender her My most profound respects. CELIA: I know That won't be possible, señor, Since Doña Ana's preparing for A trip to Alcalá. We go To make a novena there--tomorrow. JUAN: You mean she's leaving the court! But this Is the time of festival. She'll miss The feast of San Juan. CELIA: In this time of sorrow There won't be any celebration. JUAN: But this is important! I'll only be A minute, Celia. It's vital for me To give her this--communication-- The packet just arrived today-- And the man who sent it said to me That I was the only one that he Could trust with the job. CELIA: I'm on my way.
BELTRÁN: You can't get any respect when you're poor; Now if you were rich, and a scoundrel--I swear-- She'd never have left you standing there, You would have been hustled right through that door. JUAN: Well, I accept her explanation, If she's really on the verge of leaving. BELTRÁN: And I say seeing is believing-- JUAN: A typically nasty interpretation. BELTRÁN: Has she ever seen you when you came? JUAN: A man who attempts a difficult deed, Shouldn't be hurt when he doesn't succeed. She's very courteous, all the same. BELTRÁN: So now what are we supposed to do, While she goes off to the shrine to pray? JUAN: I'll spend the whole time she's away Waiting for her--and suffering, too. BELTRÁN: Going with her would be better for you. JUAN: If I were the kind of man who could, I'd have to go--I really would-- If I could get her to ask me to. But I can't do that--try as I might, And she's not likely to encourage me, Because of the scandal there could be If the event ever came to light. BELTRÁN: And here she comes! JUAN: Oh, look, Beltrán! She is Aurora, lovely and bright!
Enter Doña ANA, a widow, with CELIA
ANA: (My God, Celia, what a horrible sight! Aside Look at the face on that Don Juan!) JUAN: Señora, Celia made it very clear How busy you were with your preparation-- So now I have less justification For daring to interrupt you here-- Except--
He gives her the letter
what's written down inside Is a matter of such urgency I must be excused. ANA: I can never be, My dear Don Juan, too occupied When a friend drops in, or better, When a noble gentleman comes by. JUAN: Madam, I'm yours--I await your reply. Please--don't mind me--read the letter. ANA: What kind of hostess would you make of me? JUAN: Read it. It's a matter of life and death; Some poor soul breathes his final breath, Unless you supply a remedy. ANA: If there is anything I can do, You have no reason to worry or fear. JUAN: It's serious--they needn't hear-- Tell them to leave me alone with you; These matters deserve your full attention, And they require secrecy. ANA: Leave us, go. BELTRÁN: (So love, I see, Aside Is the real mother of invention.
JUAN: So now at last we are alone! If my discretion you would see,
She starts to read the letter; he stops her
Don't read the letter, listen to me-- I am that letter, blood and bone! Let not my boldness earn your scorn, We are alone here, you and I, And a charge, without a witness by, Dies in the cradle where 'tis born. Since the first time I saw you here, Dazzling as the sky so bright, The sun has twice bestowed his light Upon the signs that round his sphere. And like Hippolytus, who stole Jove's lightning and was struck down dead, And after ages in an earthy bed, Was suddenly made alive and whole, Or like that other Greek, who tried To look upon the Gorgon's face, And found himself frozen in place, And his whole being petrified, That's how I felt when first I saw Your face--all wonder, admiration, Ecstasy and fascination-- Beyond desire--perfect awe; Ah, such beauties I was seeing, And shown glories so amazing, In an instant they were blazing Through my eyes to seize my being. ANA: Hold there, Don Juan. All this, it's go- ing to end with saying you're in love? JUAN: Ah, no, that would be wasteful of Your time, señora--you already know. ANA: That you would die for me? JUAN: No way. Who could resign himself to death When love gives him both life and breath, As your love gives my soul today? ANA: To ask me then to love you? JUAN: By No means, Señora, I would not dare Come here for that. What merit is there In such a worthless thing as I? ANA: Then tell me what you want of me. JUAN: I want--I only know it's you I want--I don't want you to do Anything for me. That wouldn't be What you deserve. As a sickly man, Exhausted on his bed of pain, Tosses and turns and turns again, Only to find the familiar an- guish whichever side he lies upon, And yet he'll toss and turn and try To end the pain which seems to lie On every side, and on and on, So I in my affliction come To you, my mistress dear. And why? Not drawn by hope but driven by Despair and pain, not seeking some Relief in speaking out, although Not speaking would be death for sure-- Impossible to find the cure, Impossible the pain, and so-- Be not offended by what I do, Or at the boldness of my profession, For joined to it comes my confession That I could never be worthy of you. ANA: Is there anything more? JUAN: What more could I Impart to you? You know what's true: It all comes down to "I love you." ANA: Well then, Señor Don Juan, good-bye. JUAN: No, wait, will you not answer me? You will not leave me in this plight? ANA: You already said you loved me, right? JUAN: That's what I said, that's what you see! ANA: And you also said you had no intent Of asking me to love you back-- Since that would be too bold an attack. JUAN: It's what I said and what I meant. ANA: And I believe I heard you say You had no hope of winning me. JUAN: I did. ANA: And that you'd never be Equal to me in any way, I think your tongue affirmed that, too-- JUAN: Yes, I spoke in exactly that way. ANA: So if you've said all you came to say, What's left for me to say to you?
ANA leaves
JUAN: Come, death, O come and end this life, So cursed, so full of misery, That only thy sword can offer me Relief from pain and endless strife. What have I done, how can it be A sin to love you, O heartless beast? Please God-- But no, God is not pleased-- For I love you more than I love me.
CELIA: Alas, poor miserable Don Juan! BELTRÁN: Give him some help. CELIA: Then say a prayer That my help gets him anywhere.
CELIA leaves
BELTRÁN: So how are we doing? JUAN: The truth, Beltrán? I begged of hope to keep desire alive in me And fed myself on lies. The goal I struggle for Is all unreachable, I see, like to the shore For one adrift, without a bark, upon the sea. On love's best wing did I sail forth, only to be Now not a foot further, and should I strive for more, I can but lose all I hold dear, for 'tis a war In which surrender is my only victory. And thus victorious in my desperation, I starve desire, by telling it no lies, and so I live to breathe again when my desire dies. How sad, that losing hope becomes my one salvation, And keeping hope alive but fortifies my foe, And all my victory is in desire's demise. BELTRÁN: How sad, that all I get with you is exercise, And all my victory is finding food to go, And dinner's just a memory--of long ago!
They go out
Scene Two
A room in the COUNT's house.
Enter the COUNT, Don MENDO, and ORTIZ, a page
MENDO: Here is a little note, Ortiz For Doña Lucrecia--take it to her. ORTIZ: God be with you.
He leaves
MENDO: I tell you, sir, With a foolish woman there is no peace. COUNT: How so? MENDO: Lucrecia's just perverse, She's mad with love and jealousy. COUNT: With reason, Don Mendo? MENDO: Well, certainly-- But that just makes her fault the worse. Ana's making me blind with desire, Which Lucrecia thinks to remedy By getting jealous and scolding me-- Which just adds fuel to the fire. COUNT: (Lucrecia, if God's will it be, Aside May his change work a change in you! And may my lost hopes thrive anew, Brought back to life by jealousy!) So how do you respond to her? MENDO: Deny it all! What harm can that do? COUNT: But wouldn't her knowing be better for you-- If you're determined to love elsewhere? MENDO: Too dangerous for me to do! Dear Count, you loved her once, which set My heart on fire; there may be yet, I fear, a little spark or two. And old flames never quite grow cold; A man must cultivate the skill Of starting new ones while he still Avoids abandoning the old. For Cupid's just a child at play; A thousand times you see a boy, Grown weary with his newest toy, Go seek the one he tossed away. COUNT: You're quite the greedy lover, sir. MENDO: But it's Ana's love I mostly prize. COUNT: And she loves you? MENDO: For now, I surmise That I have earned some favor with her. COUNT: And Dorothea? MENDO: She's a fool-- She wants to make a husband of me! There's a better chance my family Was born and bred in Istanbul. COUNT: No woman, surely, would behave Like that--unless of course she's mad-- To kill what little affection she's had And make herself a life-long slave! MENDO: Exactly! Marriage just spoils the mood! I get a serious case of cold feet, And she becomes all mushy and sweet, Which only makes me nasty and rude! But take away that one condition, And the girl has a wonderful time with me! COUNT: Mendo, you're lucky in love, I see. MENDO: The planets were in the right position; I'm a Leo, and Venus and Mars Were in conjunction at my birth; I'm lovable. If Astrology's worth Anything still, blame the stars! Good-bye for now; I go to her! There's still a little daylight yet, And Ana's sun tonight will set In Alcalá. COUNT: God keep you, sir.
The COUNT leaves. LEONARDO enters and speaks to Don MENDO
LEONARDO: Master, the coach and horses await, I think it's time for them to go. MENDO: Fetch me the public coach, you know, The one that stands at Alcalá Gate, And have my steward leave right away, And for God's sake, tell him to look alive, I want dinner ready when we arrive At Viveros Inn by the end of the day. And do it so Doña Ana can see In my thoughtfulness, my love for her. LEONARDO: I speak for the whole household, sir, We live for your felicity.
They go out
Scene Three
Madrid. A room in Doña ANA's house
Enter Doña ANA, in traveling clothes, and CELIA
ANA: Now why are you so sad? And why Are all my women moping about? Tell me your troubles--talk them out. CELIA: Since you insist, I must comply; Madam, here is my true report: All your women are dearly hoping To get married, and they're moping Because all their lovers are at court, And here we are, six days away From the Eve of St. John--from Midsummer Night, When lovers woo with all their might And make their intentions known that day, And your women are sad to think that when Their men are in court, they'll all be out! ANA: O Celia, there's nothing to worry about-- They'll all be back in town by then; They can take the coach, together with me; I won't deny them their delight, We'll all rush back for St. John's Night, And I'll honor the feast day secretly, Then return to the shrine with the rays of the sun, To finish my novena there. CELIA: May the Heavens guard you from every care! But wouldn't your plan be a better one, If you just put off your departure a bit? ANA: Suppose you knew that I was dying To wed Don Mendo, and the one thing lying Right in my way to hinder it-- Was a little promise made by me To make a novena at St. James' Shrine-- Should I still delay--since the case is mine-- My heartache's only remedy? For once I pay these final dues, I put away my widow's weeds. CELIA: May Heaven bless you in all your deeds! I'm going to tell the girls the news. ANA: No, as I hope for happiness, Don't breathe a word. CELIA: As you advise; Don Mendo's here.
CELIA goes out
ANA: May our good-byes Give me good omen of success.
Enter Don MENDO, brightly dressed, to ANA
MENDO: The fields of Alcalá no longer sue To have from Flora's hand their coloring, And Summer they eschew And all his beauties, for they have their Spring Now, in the blessed hope that they possess Of seeing you in all your loveliness. The streams, eager to be the glasses where Those two celestial suns, your eyes, might see Their own reflections fair, Transform to crystal their fluidity; And water, for one kiss from them so sweet, Builds silver bridges for your snow-white feet. And in the verdant branches of the trees, The birds lift up their voices to the air, And blend their harmonies Like choirs, to greet the rising of your sun; The glory of this day they all profess, And sing melodious songs of thankfulness. She leaves--a new Europa!--and amorous Jove Entreats the winds to charm the seas before Her craft--a treasure-trove Of all the riches from the Indian shore; For all its glories Spain does now transfer From Manzanar to Alcalá in her. She leaves--prime mover of my heart's devotion! And I speed after, though not recklessly, In following her motion, For 'tis my center that I chase in thee-- That I, dear glory, may deserve to play The morning-star to this your coming day. ANA: For colors strewn by hope on every field, Or for the birds' enchanting harmonies, Or crystal that's congealed, Or for the charming sweetness of the breeze, I nothing care, nor wish a morning star Beyond what runs before Apollo's car. However much the heart desires it, Love dare not give you such acknowledgement; My honor won't permit, Nor will my state in life give its consent. MENDO: Your presence like a magnet draws my gaze. ANA: The truest test of love is how it obeys. MENDO: Would you deprive me of yourself? ANA: I go Without you, sir. MENDO: Alas, how can you be So cool, and leave me so On fire? ANA: I also burn, but would be free Of harm! MENDO: Don't let your fear keep us apart. ANA: I have a longing, but a cautious, heart. MENDO: Did you not say I was your lord? ANA: My eyes Disclose my deepest soul--you know it's true. MENDO: Who is it terrifies You then? I love and I am loved by you. ANA: Until you say "I do"--I fear. The sea Of love is tossed with changeability; And even as I share with family My blest decision to accept your hand, And pray religiously In Alcalá that God grant my demand That my decision cause me no regret, Even as I repay my sacred debt With this novena, your love may lose Its ardor, and I thereby my reputation; People are quick to accuse, And give our acts the worst interpretation. MENDO: You think I'll change! ANA: These are the fears of love. MENDO: The tricks inconstancy is guilty of! If you're already bored with your new beau, Then why pretend it's fear or modesty? You hate me--tell me so! It's not the disappointment but the inconstancy That hurts me. Fine--be safe! I'll fill each day With jealousy and weep my nights away. ANA: If you mistrust, you impugn my loyalty; But if you would be cured of your mistake, Put secret spies on me, And test my faith; my truth you cannot shake. MENDO: I trust you; what I lack is patience, dear, To bear the torture of your leaving here.
CELIA comes in
CELIA: Doña Lucrecia's here for a brief Visit with you, señora. ANA: Who? CELIA: Your cousin. . . . MENDO: (She comes upon her cue, Aside To thwart my good and bring me grief!
Enter LUCRECIA, veiled, and ORTIZ
LUCRECIA: Cousin, I didn't want to miss The chance to see you off today. ANA: My dear, I'd never go away Without first stopping off to vis- it you at home--not when the sight Of that sweet face as I depart Would be such an auspicious start To the trip I have to make tonight.
LUCRECIA speaks aside to MENDO
LUCRECIA: Traitor, deny it if you dare-- The ugly truth that I see here! ANA: What are you whispering in Don Mendo's ear? LUCRECIA: I simply wondered why he would wear Such fancy clothes to visit you-- To keep you company as you go? The time and place suggest it's so-- It's the sort of thing a suitor would do. ANA: It would not suit my modesty-- An honor so magnificent! And far from being a compliment, The thought does me an injury. Besides, my dear, it seems to me If he had any plans to go, Since I'm in black from head to toe, He wouldn't have dressed so colorfully. CELIA: Madam, it's time for you to go-- The coaches are already here. ANA: I pray you, don't forget me, dear. LUCRECIA: I'll write you every hour or so. ANA: Good-bye, Don Mendo. MENDO: Let me bring You to your coach, Señora. ANA: No. If anyone should see us go, They would suspect the very thing My cousin just accused us of.
MENDO speaks aside to ANA
MENDO: Don't leave just yet, make some delay.
I am your servant, and I obey, But my soul follows, slave to your love.
ANA and CELIA go out. LUCRECIA produces a note, which she shows to Don MENDO
LUCRECIA: This note--do you know what it is? MENDO: I wrote the thing, Lucrecia dear. LUCRECIA: Then tell me how your being here Agrees with what you say in this! Deceiver! traitor! hypocrite! Liar! And do you bear the name Guzmán? and do you dare proclaim Yourself a gentleman? Is it Possible noble blood can flow Within a traitorous heart, or can It be an honorable feat for a man To abuse and cheat a woman so? MENDO: Señora, listen-- LUCRECIA: Spare me, please, Those venemous lips, which but produce Another fanciful excuse To deal me further injuries. MENDO: What do you want? Would you condemn Me then unheard? and with suspicion Damn all my deeds on supposition? LUCRECIA: What can you say to pardon them? You dare to call it supposition, Clear proof of your inconstancy-- You traitor!--and of my injury? MENDO: That on which you base your suspicion Shall be as well my vindication. Your page spoke to you, didn't he? And asked if you would meet with me That I might find a fit occasion To acquit myelf and unburden you Of these misgivings that were so Consuming you? They let me know-- You servants--that you were going to Visit your cousin, so I came too, To wait for you--as fast as I could-- Before you came--so no one would Suspect that I was following you. And that's what you would damn me for! LUCRECIA: And that is how you would explain-- Which only aggravates my pain And multiplies your sins the more! Ana's the cause of all this wrong-- And finding you in conversation Is supposed to give me consolation? MENDO: Her presence here would be the strong- est way to prove how wrong you were! LUCRECIA: What proof? You didn't say a thing! MENDO: Because you hid your suffering; I couldn't speak in front of her And risk offending you. But be Surer than surety, have done With jealousy, the sun and moon May change their course, but never me! For I am yours. LUCRECIA: It's what you do That I'll believe. MENDO: At once! Just get Your family's consent--I'll let My passion prove its truth to you.
The COUNT comes in
COUNT: (Where there is jealousy can there Aside Be sanity?) Lucrecia dear! Don Mendo! MENDO: Fortune brought you here, I know, in answer to my prayer! Dear Count, Lucrecia needs to know From you what we today spoke of Between ourselves--about her love? COUNT: I'll be your witness then. MENDO: I'll go; And you two talk alone. I see By staying I might pressure you.
MENDO leaves
LUCRECIA: (Oh, please! Some witness! All you'll do Is plead for your own cause to me!) COUNT: So--shall I tell you truthfully? LUCRECIA: Isn't that why you chose to stay? COUNT: Just hear me out, and then repay-- Or don't repay--my loyalty. And to protect yourself from grief, If you perhaps mistrust my word, Then keep it secret what you've heard, And test if it is worth belief Yourself. For since he ordered me To tell you just what he expressed, If I should honor his request, I can't be charged with treachery. And even though he really meant For me to back him in his lies, I'm not obliged to compromise Myself, by serving his intent. You know that note he gave Ortiz Today? He'd barely passed it off When with a spiteful and a scoff- ing tone he said, "There is no peace With a foolish woman, Count. I had Just pledged to Ana my devotion, When Lucrecia, jealous and emotion- ally unstable, goes quite mad!" "Then wouldn't it be best," said I, "To stop deceiving her?" Says he, "So often love has a tendency To seek again what it tossed by; And fearing this might happen to me, I've nothing to lose by keeping a spare." LUCRECIA: Be quiet! So that's the kind of snare You'd set for me! Do you think he Would talk like that? You're hoping to Oblige me with your thoughtfulness; And if I hate Don Mendo, you guess I'd have to fall in love with you! COUNT: But listen-- LUCRECIA: No! No more! Be still! COUNT: Test it yourself, now that you know. And if I'm wrong, punish me so; If right, reward me how you will. And if, because I'm so in love With you, you doubt my honesty, Then don't take this as proof, but see For yourself what it's a symptom of: He's going to follow her, you know, To Alcalá--that should be strong Enough to prove to you you're wrong-- But order someone else to go, Someone disinterested, and smart Enough to follow secretly, And then, if you're obliged to me, You can repay a loyal heart. For what an awful thing to do-- If you should favor with your love A man who's proven guilty of Deceit, over one whose love is true. LUCRECIA: You're telling me the truth, I know, And if I still deny it's true, It's not that I don't trust in you, It's that your words have hurt me so. O liar! O gentleman low-bred! I pray to God, as deep in love As disillusion, that you prove This viciousness that strikes me dead! I pray to God upon his throne, That just this once the power of Completely altering one's love Resides in one's free will alone; For, if it's true what you have said, Be certain, Count, that what my love Would hold from you, the power of My will will surely give instead. COUNT: That boon is all I hope to get. LUCRECIA: The greater you oblige me to, The more I'll force myself to do Whatever will repay that debt.
They go out
Scene Four
The Calle Mayor in Madrid, and on it, Doña ANA's house. [Six days later.]
Enter Don JUAN and BELTRÁN, in evening clothes
BELTRÁN: If you can do it without reproach, Tonight it might be best for you, To avoid the Duke. JUAN: Why? what will he do? BELTRÁN: He'll make you join him in his coach! He'll strap you down on a hard wooden seat To keep you from having any fun, While words and deeds unfettered run Amok though every city street. On Midsummer Night, it seems to me, One footsoldier with a talent for The sneak attack can win far more Than thirty mounted cavalry. There are some women out there, I hear, With tricks they've prepared just for tonight, Who mean to unleash for sheer delight The passions they've hoarded up all year. A man could get in a coach packed tight With heavenly angels in all their array, And though he's only a lackey by day, They'll receive him like a marquis all night; Or unawares find himself waylaid By a woman decked out in widow's weeds, Who satisfies her conjugal needs With this matrimonial masquerade. Or he could get lucky and happen to meet A string of girls with beautiful hands, Encircled all with silver bands, And one by one knock them off their feet. Or he might fall in with a rowdier faction, With ladies whose boyfriends are busy with booze, Oh, there are a thousand moves he could use To cut himself in on a piece of that action. JUAN: Go looking for action in that kind of joint, You're bound to crap out on the very next throw. BELTRÁN: Now, that's not necessarily so, Some women won't quit till you've made your point. Is that what you're afraid of then-- Some woman who'll ask too much of you? Wherever you live, that's what people do: They want things--women as well as men. You hear a linen merchant cry, "Linen, linen" the livelong day, Well, he's not giving it away, He's saying, "I'll sell it, if you buy." Without a word, when merchants flaunt Their wares, they're saying very clearly, "Take out your money and pay me dearly, And you can have whatever you want." The way I look at it today, You've got to sell to stay alive, You buy and sell just to survive, Each one of us in his own way. The sexton sells the cross retail, The priest, his prayers and magic charms, The workman sells his legs and arms, The hunchback's got his hump for sale. Writers auction off their books, Policemen barter with their sticks, Officials with their politics, And lovely ladies with their looks. Now women always ask the most-- And they're justified in doing so; They pay the highest price, although They rarely can afford the cost. And when (alas!) the quid pro quo Becomes a burden for the likes of me-- For women want habitually-- I have a habit of just saying no. From the day they're born, it seems to me, Women have asked and wanted and sought; So now they do it without a thought, They're begging for it unconsciously. So turning them down is as easy as pie. It's a fair deduction, you have to admit, Since they don't know that they're selling it, They don't really notice when you don't buy. JUAN: Come up with all the reasons you can, You still won't rid me of my fear-- Not that the cost may be too dear, But that I don't have it in me, Beltrán. More so, if the woman that I adore Should deign to take what I have to give. BELTRÁN: I see those feelings are still alive, JUAN: Her coldness makes me burn the more. BELTRÁN: Here comes the Duke.
Enter the DUKE and Don MENDO, in evening clothes
DUKE: Well, well, Don Juan. JUAN: I'm at your service, Excellency. DUKE: I feared you were avoiding me Just now. If Don Mendo de Guzmán, Whose good sense blazes like the sun, Deigns to be at our side, how can We be avoided by a man, Who shines forth in comparison Not quite so bright as a single star? MENDO: Your Excellency's too kind to me. DUKE: It is a miracle of courtesy, That you are friends, as I know you are. JUAN: I pray you, what is your intention In summoning us here like this? MENDO: We both owe you our services. DUKE: Then pay me close attention. A man who's newly come to court With his inheritance, a neophyte, A ship just venturing from port, A fledgling on its maiden flight, A man who in the eyes of the King, And in the eyes of the people, too, Dare not seem weak in anything, Nor yet can hide himself from view, A man unused to sail, depends On guides experienced at sea, Who care for him like his own friends, Are bound to him like family; This is the trust I place in each Of you, the bond that binds you two, My seasoned captains both, to teach This raw recruit what he should do. The two of you stay close to me, And tell me what I need to know, The name, estate, and quality, Of all I meet, wherever I go. And in the matter of courtesy, You are my first and last resort; I'd shun all impropriety, With anyone who's of the court. A gentleman is always so, Just as the sun is ever the sun, Though in mean lodgings he should go To shed his beams on everyone. A kindly face, a courtly ease, A gracious tongue, a noble heart-- Why, any man may master these To serve his turn and take his part; Show me the reefs and sandbars, where Another man might meet his end; Which is the traitor Sinon there? And which the trusty Trojan friend? And keep me safe from flattering, That poison in a golden cup; When in my ears the sirens sing, Then teach me how to stop them up. For finally, you must be the thread To lead me through this monstrous maze, The Court. When I turn wrong instead Of right, you two must guide my ways. MENDO: My light's too weak, I must confess, To be the North Star in your sky, But what I lack in lustiness, My good intentions will supply. JUAN: 'Tis my unhappy destiny To be no Roman conqueror, But what I am, obediently I place at your disposal, sir. DUKE: Assured of this, in God's own name, I launch my bark upon the sea. Let's walk the streets, and I will frame My questions, and you'll enlighten me. MENDO: This street, sir, is the Calle Mayor. JUAN: Our "El Dorado," of world-wide fame. MENDO: If El Dorado can make you poor, Then El Dorado's a perfect name. JUAN: A purveyor of pleasure and of passion, MENDO: And of commercial piracy. JUAN: Where ladies come to shop for fashion. MENDO: And drive us all to bankruptcy. DUKE: Who lives in that house? JUAN: A young grandee, Don Lope de Lara, a man of some Wealth, but of greater nobility. MENDO: But not half as noble as he is dumb. DUKE: Wait, listen--they're dancing up there. JUAN: St. John's is a sacred feast for all. MENDO: I'd say it's less a time for prayer, And more an excuse for having a ball. DUKE: And who lives there? JUAN: A widow, sir, Whose honor and beauty none can deny. MENDO: And since no one's propositioned her, She's chaste--but she's got a roving eye. BELTRÁN: (And he's got the nicest mouth in town!) Aside Good Lord alive, the man's a clown! JUAN: That lovely shrine was put up there By a pilgrim who came from out of town. MENDO: And every time he said a prayer God turned the wretched sinner down. JUAN: That councilman lives there, you see, That built that hospital for the poor. MENDO: Once he'd reduced them to poverty. BELTRÁN: (My God, with him no one's secure!) Aside
Enter Doña ANA and CELIA at the window
ANA: O Celia, three years has it been Since my husband--this very night-- Ended his days and my delight, And made my miseries begin. CELIA: The only reason that you had For leaving Alcalá was to Enjoy the pleasures awaiting you In Madrid today--so why be sad? Why try to use this memory, Señora, to wage a war that's so Unfair, against the joy you owe To a night of such festivity. And even if your mourning grief Keeps you from leaving home today, When modesty itself may stray A little, in search of some relief; Even if you feel an obligation To stay inside, although tonight Visiting altars is the right Of maidens of highest reputation, At least distract yourself a bit From your misfortunes with the view Of people passing by--here, through These blinds, which shield and yet admit. It's midnight, lady, the hour of Foretelling. Listen, and you shall hear The sound of your next husband dear. ANA: It is Don Mendo that I love. MENDO: Don Juan de Mendoza? ANA: O my God! Was that Don Mendo's voice I heard? CELIA: Yes, but "Don Juan" was the magic word. ANA: Between those two, it would be too odd To think Don Mendo's not the one Who's here foretold to marry me; I heard Don Mendo's voice, you see, Before I heard the name "Don Juan." CELIA: But what if eternal destiny Has pre-ordained your sweet white hand To be preserved, by sovereign command, Just for Don Juan? How would that be? ANA: Oh hush, you fool! Whoever thought Such eminent absurdity? And what do I care what destiny Might want--if I should want it not! The stars indeed may influence me, The yes or no remains mine still; For in the matter of free will Fate has no final authority. How could I love a fellow so Deformed in face and figure, one Who's painful just to look upon? CELIA: Love can make it happen, though! ANA: Celia, my death's the only thing That could deprive Don Mendo of My hand. The date is near, my love Is strong, my will unwavering. DUKE: That terraced house--the owner's name? JUAN: It's Doña Ana de Contreras. The sun that blazes from those terrace Windows can set one's heart aflame. ANA: They're talking of me now--do you hear? DUKE: Fair as the widow Dido? JUAN: Yes, sir. DUKE: I'd like to catch a glimpse of her. MENDO: She isn't there today, I fear. (I'm not quite here myself, away Aside From her.) DUKE: Where is she? MENDO: In Alcalá-- Keeping the holy vigil. DUKE: Ah. She's quite the beauty--or so they say. JUAN: Yet in my heart I know, dear sir, No image that her reputation Has drawn in your imagination In any way could equal her. For she in beauty, grace, delight, In virtue and in modesty, Exceeds the power of fantasy As brightest day surpasses night. MENDO: (Now God forbid this praise should drive Aside The Duke to fall in love with her; With him as my competitor My hopes in her would never thrive. I'll run her down a bit, and try To throw some water on the flame.) She's not so grand as you proclaim; Are you the blind man here, or I? Her outside's not too bad when seen From far away; at closer view, I'm not so easily fooled as you-- The woman's ugly, sir; I've been Inside the house. DUKE: You go to see Her then? MENDO: Oh, once in a while, sir; We're sort of cousins; avoiding her Would be the sin of snobbery. ANA: The traitor! MENDO: But every time she tries To mouthe her mediocre wit, The barren emptiness of it Freezes her very breath to ice. BELTRÁN: (Give me a break! Aside
JUAN: Do gentlemen do Such cruel things to those they love? BELTRÁN: And this is his lady he's speaking of-- Imagine what he says of you! MENDO: Her skin has a kind of healthy glow, But her years can't keep up the charade-- ANA: You wretched liar! He just made Fun of my age!
Don't you think so? MENDO: For her complexion comes and goes With her cleansing jars and cosmetics trays. DUKE: Then why is Don Juan so full of praise? MENDO: Between the two of us, I suppose He's a good man--and if I contend He's just a little short--of wit, It does no harm to mention it; He is your kinsman and my friend, And it's not exactly slanderous. JUAN: Why would you want to find offense In a woman of such elegance? MENDO: Even the rose most beauteous May hide a prickly thorn inside. JUAN: In matters of taste, to each his own; But either my wits are overthrown, Or she is beauty deified. MENDO: You don't know women--not a bit.
To the DUKE
JUAN: You shall see her yourself one day, And this hard opinion will crumble away When you see she's quite the opposite. MENDO: (This Don Juan's trying to murder me! Aside The very thing that I have said To keep the Duke uninterested Is going to cause me injury!)
CELIA: How are you doing? ANA: Mad as can be. CELIA: Do you still love him all the same? ANA: My heart is bursting into flame; I'm breathing fire! Oh, how can he Have said such things! To slander me Who love him so? Is this the way You treat someone you love? CELIA: I'd say, That men who speak so cruelly Are not in love. He's tricked you. ANA: I know. We can be in Alcalá by dawn If we leave tonight, Celia. Go on-- Tell them to get a coach. Let's go. I never finished with my prayer, And what I heard tonight was sent By heaven to be my punishment For breaking my novena there. CELIA: Before you knew he was so cruel, You said you'd come here for the day. ANA: And that's what stole my life away. I was better off when I was a fool.
The women go out. There are sounds of swordplay off
MENDO: Oh. listen--there's a brawl towards. DUKE: I say it's better if we chased The ladies.
The DUKE leaves
MENDO: Ah-ha, I see his taste Runs more to women than to swords.
Don MENDO leaves
JUAN: With his best friend, he can't control His carping tongue! Beltrán, take note! BELTRÁN: His tongue is, as the Poet wrote, "That which spareth no living soul."
They go out


The Walls Have Ears, 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