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Act I

[Scene 3]

Enter Cardenio, in a long cloak and cassock, followed by Torrente, his servant, wearing a cape and cap and eating quince 6 , or something similar.

Cardenio My faint and slender hope flies with feeble wings,
and though it rises to the zenith
of the beautiful sky,220
it never reaches the point to which it aspires.
I have become the perfect likeness
of that boy Icarus,
who took off from the soil of Crete and,
against the wishes of his father,225
hurled himself towards the heavens. 7
Melted by the fire of love,
my daring thoughts will fall
into the cold and stormy sea of fear.
But wild flights,230
forestalled by time and death,
will not bear my name into oblivion…
Are you eating? Much good may it do you!
I hope you starve!

Torrente He who chews and doesn’t swallow235
cannot be said to eat.
Do not stay my hand.
If there should be any cause for blame,
this quince from Toledo serves as my excuse.
It has been said a thousand times before240
and I will say it again:
‘One's sword, woman and quince
should always come from Toledo’.
Natural activities are necessary,
and eating is one of them,245
and one of the most important.
Remember the proverb:
‘The rich eat when they want,
and the poor when they are able.’

Cardenio Nevertheless, I would appreciate it250
if you did not eat in the street.

Torrente If you find these childish things
dishonourable or displeasing
I will stop my mouth with lime and sand.

Cardenio I know you are discreet.255

Torrente And I’ve a tooth that's quite sweet!

Cardenio You know what the devil never knew.

Torrente And I’m even more devilish

Cardenio Are you eating again, you faithless wretch?

Torrente I’m not eating, I’m sucking!260
Enter Muñoz, Marcela’s squire
But look! Saint Elmo,
the patron saint of seamen has arrived! 8

Cardenio It is true, though my storm never abates
and always worsens.
My salvation lies in those blessed hands.265

Muñoz You’ll see how I pull out all the stops
to give you sound advice.
You should know, my boy,
that grey hairs are the foundation
upon which wit and discretion sit.270
Old age commands everyone’s attention,
because it has experience
as its counsellor and teacher,
and these grey hairs did not grow by chance.

Cardenio Speak softly, señor Muñoz.275
I know you, and I know
your mind is keen.

Muñoz May heaven help me
as I intend to help you,
because rewards enliven280
the most dull and sluggish mind.

Cardenio If this humble escudo is a reward
may your good self receive it
in the same healthy spirit
with which I offer it.285

Muñoz Oh sir, I did not deserve such generosity!

Torrente [aside] He took it, kissed it
and hid it away, perhaps for ever.
No doubt it was the gold’s pure colour
that enamoured him,290
since one of its virtues is to gladden the heart,
and greed and old age go hand in hand.
But what heart is not governed by a hunger for gold?

Muñoz Listen, and pay great heed to this advice, my boy:
Don’t think that Marcela is of such fragile mettle295
that she will be softened by go-betweens,
petitioning, persistence,
tears, sighs or true desire.
Cupid’s hardest shots are like soft wax to her.
She is like a rock in the sea300
to love’s amorous waves,
touched but not moved.
This is how Marcela is.

Cardenio Do not unnerve and frighten me.

Torrente Oh, how many of these diamonds305
have I seen disintegrate?
How many have I seen
surrender to a nocturnal letter?
How many, without naming names,
have changed from objects to be won310
into women of lost virtue?
How many abandon modesty to follow whims?
How many falter in love’s sweet exchanges,
and fall flat on their backs?

Muñoz But Marcela does not stumble or fall.315

Torrente Huh! That would be a miracle…

Cardenio Hold your tongue!
Extremes are found in nature nowadays,
And señor Muñoz knows his business.

Muñoz I am sure my description fits my señora,320
even more than I am revealing,
but let us come to the point
of what I wish to say.

Cardenio I am dying to hear it, Torrente.

Muñoz There lives in Lima325
a brother of Marcela’s father,
a nobleman of illustrious
and unsullied lineage.
They say his share of Fortune’s goods was such,
that even the richest call him rich.330
He has a son called don Silvestre de Almendárez,
betrothed to doña Marcela,
even though she is his cousin.
We expect him with each fleet,
but if he has not come335
in the one just safely arrived
it is a stroke of luck for us.
I will give you information
so that you can pass yourself off as him,
and such that, however much they question you,340
you will answer artfully.
Thus, giving credence to deceit,
your lies might be taken as truths.
They will put you up in their house,
showing you great hospitality.345
Once inside, you’ll see
how you can take advantage.

Cardenio That is all very well, but if perchance
the fleet is carrying letters from don Silvestre,
and they discover he is not coming,350
what will I do, trapped inside the house?
How will I make credible such a blatant lie,
so that I can proceed?

Muñoz You will say that,
after the letter had been written and posted,355
your mother wanted you to come to Spain,
albeit without your father knowing,
and she, wanting to see herself with grandchildren,
who might prolong her name and posterity,
did not wish you to tarry.360
Arriving incognito will excuse you, sir,
from not coming with riches
that might indicate who you are…
oh but do not fail to bring some bezoars,
and strings of pearls and talking parrots.365

Cardenio Thus I will spin a satisfactory yarn
that will get me out of the tight squeeze.

Torrente This is all madness!

Cardenio Complete the inventory,
and specify those main points370
that are fundamental to this new design,
so that they declare me
to be don Silvestre himself.

Muñoz Come for it this afternoon.

Cardenio My servant here will return for it.375

Torrente I’ll return for it, God willing.
Without his help I cannot move,
or even sneeze!

Muñoz Sir, if by any chance…if luck would have it
that you were carrying another little escudo,380
perhaps you could be liberal with it.
It’s winter, and there’s no flannel,
And it would not be right
if I who tend your fire should suffer cold.

Cardenio I do not have one, honestly,385
but I will see to it that you get your flannel coat.
The tailor will make it at my expense.

Muñoz I will sell it, by God!
I will not allow Marcela
to flaunt the trophies for which I sweated blood.390
Let her dress me as she wishes,
so that I accompany her looking smart,
but wear out my flannel coat
serving someone else? Not likely!
I’m going, because it suits our purpose395
to print the inventory that backs up our fraud.
May God be with you.

Cardenio …and with you.

Muñoz Make sure you don't forget
the flannel and the tailor.400
[aside] Their joy or sorrow depends on that.

Exit Muñoz

Cardenio A good beginning to my deception!

Torrente Better to call it a nonsense sir,
a tower built on toothpicks,
or a little house of cards.405
Tell me, where are the pearls?
Where are the bezoars,
the parakeets or parrots?
Where is the practical knowledge
of the Indies, of the ports and seas410
to choose and navigate?
Where is the flannel and the tailor?
If you desire a happy ending to your affairs
I advise you always to bear the truth before you.
I am your servant and, since I am hungry,415
my wit is keen and my advice astute.

Cardenio I put my trust in Muñoz’s list.
Do not be fainthearted.
In love’s enterprises
it is sometimes seen420
that ingenuity and luck
are worth more than great riches.

Torrente May heaven get us out of this labyrinth 9
without a bloody nose.

Exeunt [Cardenio and Torrente]

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