LUSSURIOSO: Come Vindice, speak privily with me.
I'll bid you help me in a small assay.
VINDICE: My lord -- now Duke -- your bidding's my command.
(aside) You've paid me gold, what am I but your whore?
LUSSURIOSO: You've marked, upon my cheek, these scars I bear?
VINDICE: I've seen you take a razor to your skin.
And make the blood spring fresh: why do you so,
My lord? What secret guilt reveals thus?
LUSSURIOSO: My secrets must continue quite unseen.
My blood is red, and yet my sins are green...
Does not your sister make a show with knives?
VINDICE: She throws her blades so carefully that they
Do never harm the one she hurls them at.
'Tis all for sport: my aim is truer.
I'd have you mark a third line on my face
As mourning for my late father the Duke.
And, kind for kind, I'll pierce you with my sword.
VINDICE: I see you do not mean a blade of steel
but one of flesh, that's conquered more than one
maidenhead -- and likely not just maids
But men. My lord, I had not thought --
LUSSURIOSO: Do not.
Stay me from thinking, let me slake my thoughts
and drive away your own as your hand takes
your knife -- you have a knife? -- to tender skin
and opens up a way for thoughts to flee
borne free by blood. My other humours will
pour out in you and drown your thoughts betimes.
VINDICE: A handsome offer. I shall think on it.
LUSSURIOSO: Think not, for thoughts turn crooked on themselves
when comets blaze above. I am not pleased
at that ill-knotted fire that hangs o'er
the city, like an harbinger of doom,
beyond command by me. The deadly light
Of that celestial messenger turns men's minds
To fatal falls.
VINDICE: It marks your father's death
And your own --
LUSSURIOSO: -- what?
VINDICE: -- your own rise to his place.
LUSSURIOSO: Rise? Ha! Tis true I rise: set your hand here
And feel --
VINDICE: oh! --
LUSSURIOSO: -- how I rise: come, lie by me
And slake my blood as I do slake my lust.
VINDICE (aside) Had I but known he'd clasp me to his breast
As he did Gloriana (my dead love)
With poison I'd have painted o'er my lips
As I did Gloriana's skull, that slew
the late Duke in his concupiscence. Well,
My knife shall learn the taste of his vile blood.
LUSSURIOSO: Rise but in this and you shall never fall
VINDICE: I rise, my lord, but you shall conquer me.
LUSSURIOSO: Here, 'neath the other mark: a little cut
to let the blood and fury fountain out
and show the world my grieving for the Duke.
Ah! There, yes, there.
VINDICE: Ah! You are bold, my lord,
and I must lie and take you as have all
those ladies you have wooed with jewels and silks,
those lords who -- ah! -- did think themselves your match.
(aside): But here's my steel, pressed sharp against your skin.
Would it might slip and stab your wanton eye.
I enter you as you do enter me.
You'll bear my mark more visibly than I
do wear your own, a canker on my soul.
Your blade is hot, you stab me yet I live
My blade is keen and cold: it is your death.
Ill-knotted fire smoulders in my heart
The Duke's lust moves me not, e'en though his blood
drips like false tears from his face to mine.
My knife will find a firmer home in him
before the comet passes from our sky.
My sister's knives are glittery with light.
My dagger's dimmed and tarnished with my spite.