Fopling: Go ahead. I want you to finish this letter to Horner just as you intended. If you deviate even a bit I will know and then you will have to deal with this. (Lays revolver on the table)
Margarita: Oh no, bud, I write even as you speak.
Fopling: Go ahead then, finish your sentence. “But you must act quickly or else, alas, I shall ever be out of your reach, for I cannot defer much longer our…” What comes after “our”
Margarita: Must all out? I cannot believe you force me to betray a trust, bunny. (Writes) If you must, there!
Fopling: “…for I cannot defer much longer our departure. Your heartbroken Diana Sparks” What is this? I cannot believe my eyes. My sister’s name? Unriddle for your own good.
Margarita: Why, of course.
Fopling: What is the point of signing Diana’s name. Speak. Don’t just sit there with your mouth open.
Margarita: But you’ll tell her again, bud, and I cannot bear that you’d tell her again.
Fopling: I will not. What do you take me for? Oh my head! I cannot take the pain, the confusion! Speak!
Margarita: You promise you will not tell her?
Fopling: Didn’t you hear me the first time?
Margarita: She will be angry, but I suppose I have no choice. It’s better that she be angry with me than you. So, to tell you the truth, it was she who made me write the letter and she even taught me what I should write.
Fopling: Aha! (Aside) I really didn’t think Margarita could write so well. (Aloud) But I don’t understand. How could she teach you to write while I kept you locked up so securely.
Margarita: She’s been resting in the spare room, bud. And we talk through the door.
Fopling: You mean the door between your room and the spare room?
Margarita: Of course, baby. (Aside) The spare room will be my salvation. All I need to do is get the key in the dresser.
Fopling: But that door is locked also.
Margarita: I told you, we speak through the keyhole.
Fopling: But why should she have you write a letter since she is perfectly capable of writing herself?
Margarita: Well, she said because… You know I didn’t want to do it.
Fopling: Because what? Speak!
Margarita: Because…Well, if Mr. Horner were ever cruel to her or if he wanted to show off and tell the world, then she could always disown the letter, since it was not in her hand.
Fopling: What’s this? Well, I think I’m calming down.
Margarita: (Aside) Jeepers leepers, I’m a smart one I am.
Fopling: (Aside) The quean hasn’t the brains to invent something like that. And now that I come to think of it, my sister has been running around for days now sniffing Horner’s behind like a pussy in heat. I’m amazed that she and that Sarah Pinchwife haven’t had it out in public yet. Diana can pull hair with the best of them. They say that a man in love is a fool, so why not a woman also? But my question is, and can anyone answer this for me? My question is, why is it a tragedy when a woman loses her lover, but when a man is betrayed, it is all just somehow comic? These women are just as ruthless and uncaring in love as we are and yet they garner all the sympathy. (Aloud) But hold a moment, trollop. My sister went out this morning and I haven’t seen her since.
Margarita: Alas, you didn’t know, husband? She’s been in the spare room, weeping and tearing her clothes all day.
Fopling: I’ll bet Horner would enjoy that. Well, then I’ll go talk to her.
Margarita: (Aside) Oh Lord, he’ll discover all! (Aloud) Don’t tell me, baby, that you want to give me away. I don’t want her to know I told you. I know, let me talk to her first.
Fopling: I need to speak with her. I must find out whether she’s been fooling around with Horner and what this means for her husband.
Margarita: Oh please, bud, don’t until I have had a chance to settle her and tell her that I told you, or else she might kill me.
Fopling: All right then, go in and tell her to come out to me.
Margarita: Yes, yes, bud.
Fopling: Well, what are you waiting for?
Margarita: (Aside) This is my chance to get the key to my room so I can escape. But then what do I do? Diana’s not in the spare room and I have no idea where she is. I am at my wit’s end! (Exit)
Fopling: Well, that settles it. I’ll give him to my sister in place of my fiancée. That connection should put the brakes on his pretensions to Margarita since then he’ll be her brother-in-law by proxy. Well, so to speak. If your wife decides to be unfaithful, her unfaithfulness is the least of your worries. But a sister? That’s her husband’s problem.
Margarita: Oh Lord, I told you, bud, she would never forgive me.
Fopling: Well, where is she?
Margarita: She says she’s ashamed to look you in the eye and, if you were to go in she would run away and throw herself at Mr. Horner so, as he promised, he would be hers alone.
Fopling: He promised her that? Go and tell her if she will talk to me even a little I will arrange things myself. Go! (Exit Margarita) Knowing Diana, once Horner commits to her, she will fight like a wild beast to keep him for herself. In that case Margarita would not dare compromise herself. I’d prefer to see him flirting with my sister across the dinner table and not my wife. (Enter Margarita) Well?
Margarita: She must speak to Mr. Horner in the solitude of the spare room. She says she has to do that before she can even face you. The poor creature says she cannot even look you in the face, she is so ashamed.
Fopling: At least let me hear this from her directly. Diana!
Margarita: Oh, but why, bud? You will only wound her further.
Fopling: All this does not sound like my sister. I want to hear it from her own mouth.
Margarita: Very well, I will tell her. (Exit)
Fopling: Diana, come out this instant.
Margarita: (Within) She desires to speak to you through the door, bud. (As Diana) Oh, brother, do not make me face you.
Fopling: Then is it true you are in love with Horner?
Margarita: (As Diana) I am so ashamed, I cannot live without him.
Fopling: If you wish I will go and talk to him.
Margarita: (As Diana) I beg of you, brother, do not humiliate me further! (Sobs)
Fopling: But you cannot stay in the spare room forever. (Enter Margarita)
Margarita: I left her sobbing quietly in a corner. She told me, bunny, that you can lead Mr. Horner here to her room and that she must speak to him in private before she can look you in the eye.
Fopling: Very well. I agree to everything. I shall go see Horner immediately and make the situation known to him. But first, bud, let me lock you up.
Margarita: Must you, bud?
Fopling: You know the rules. (Locks Margarita in her room) It’s better to get angry at Horner for not taking my sister rather than for taking my wife. I would have expected nothing less of Diana given her free ways and her surfeit of education. Am I being a scoundrel? Of course I am. We great men have the greatest faults. (Exit)
Margarita: (Enter from spare room) Oh boy, it worked! I can come in and out through the spare room. And my baby’s bringing that nice Mr. Horner straight to me so we can have sex right in my very own room. But have a care. I must continue to play Diana through the door so bunny thinks it’s her. But what if she returns in the middle? I’ll find a way. We great women have a few faults of our own!
Rodney: So you’re alone. Not a single wife or a single cuckold to pay you court. Jack old man, you’re slipping.
Horner: Speaking of slipping, I understand Heidi has returned.
Rodney: Don’t mention her. She really is marrying Uncle Jasper. I mean she’s returned to be his wife.
Horner: And you’re kind of on the outs
Rodney: They both refuse to receive me. I just don’t know what she sees in the old fart.
Horner: Hmmm. What is it, I wonder, that makes a fart old?
Rodney: Dissipation. An old fart has dissipated. Thus it is less offensive.
Horner: Well, a young fart can dissipate too.
Rodney: There is nothing like dissipation to make a young fart old. But to return, I would have expected to see the women and their husbands lined up down the street.
Horner: I have found one minor fault in my otherwise flawless plan. The wives seem to be constantly accompanied by their unsuspecting husbands, so that, however unwittingly, the man acts as his own spy, preventing easy access to the woman.
Rodney: Tiring of him speeds the process of your tiring of her.
Horner: That is in fact the hardest duty a married woman imposes on her lover, namely keeping the husband company. Conversing with him after you have tired of her is as tedious as entertaining some bumpkin after you have already got all his money.
Rodney: You could have a falling out with the wife just to rid yourself of the husband.
Horner: A cuckold-maker is a true diplomat. Once the man is no longer of use to us, we won’t even acknowledge him in the street.
Rodney: But when you want the wife, the husband is your best friend, just like poor Fopling. By the way, how goes the intrigue with his wife?
Horner: You see him. He’s as difficult as a failed politician, and since he’s always on guard, and she’s a silly innocent, her kindness is in vain.
Rodney: Didn’t he deliver you a letter from her?
Horner: That’s a riddle that I still haven’t solved. Yes, the poor creature is willing, but she’s also addlebrained. And he keeps her under lock and key.
Rodney: That should make her more willing, since she’s now motivated by revenge also. The two motives have a way of reinforcing each other.
Horner: Wait! Our hero approacheth. (Enter Fopling) Well, Fopling, if I had known you would be such a frequent guest, I would have prepared the spare room.
Fopling: Your humor goes unheeded, Horner. I make myself welcome.
Horner: So this is merely a social visit. Well, please feel free to pour yourself a drink.
Fopling: Don’t be an ass. In fact, I am here on somewhat sordid business.
Rodney: We’re all ears, Fopling.
Fopling: I am an ambassador from someone who is in love with you, though she dares not admit it. And she must see you at once.
Rodney: Aren’t we all a little tired of ambassadors at this point?
Fopling: I am here to take you to her.
Horner: Slow down, Fopling. Who is this person?
Fopling: She is an individual who is very close to me.
Horner: I knew you would come around sooner or later, Fopling. Margarita needs a bit of variety at her age.
Rodney: So you’re planning the old ménage à trois, Fopling?
Fopling: If you insult my wife’s character again I shall leave here and begin immediate proceedings for defamation.
Rodney: Just joking, old boy.
Horner: But if you’re not referring to Margarita, who else can be close to you? You don’t have any friends, except perhaps the bartender at Gordon’s.
Fopling: Everyone knows you have been playing around with Diana’s heart…
Rodney: Not to mention some of her other parts.
Fopling: …and now you have broken it. Her heart, I mean. The poor woman has spent the last two days in my spare room bawling like an infant and it appears you are the object of all this misery.
Rodney: (Aside) I could have sworn I saw her yesterday wiggling her ass for some new victim.
Fopling: She demands to see you herself and declare her love, though why she should choose you is beyond imagination.
Horner: What novel did you step out of, Fopling?
Fopling: I expect you will do the honorable thing.
Horner: Remember, I’m a dying man. What kind of lover would I make?
Fopling: If you persist in that brazenness, I’ll make sure you wished it were true.
Rodney: Virtuoso use of tenses. Was that a subjunctive?
Horner: Now, now, Fopling, I’ll go as far as talking to her. How do you want to arrange this?
Fopling: Come with me. She is waiting at my home.
Horner: I don’t know. Are you sure she’s sound?
Fopling: What, do you take me for my own sister’s pimp?
Rodney: No, you are a great ladies’ man, and I stress the “great.”
Horner: Who is to say, Fopling, that you haven’t been sowing a bit of your own seed as a way of enchanting me away from your wife? Ah well, the spectacle of seeing Diana brokenhearted is certainly worth a few moments of your company. Lead on, Fopling.
Rodney: I’m so excited.
Fopling: You are not invited.
Rodney: Jilted again.
Horner: You can always buy a new bedpan for your uncle.
(Enter Barnaby Pinchwife)
Horner: (Aside to Rodney) Cuckolds have the worst manners. This one not only hinders his own wife’s sport, he also stumbles all over our other adventures. (Aloud) Why the foolish grin, Barnaby. Could it be your wife that make’s you so happy?
Barnaby Pinchwife: Don’t tell me you have news of her death? But, Jack, I’ve come to warn you in good fellowship. The girls are planning a little surprise for you.
Horner: This is the result of my relentless pursuit of women, a house full of men.
Barnaby Pinchwife: Sarah and Venus will be by at eight to give you your own personal bachelor party. (Aside) I suppose you could call it a going away party. Ha, ha!
Rodney: Will Diana be there also?
Fopling: Nonsense. Jack has come to an understanding with Diana or he’s about to. Provided all goes well, neither will be in attendance tonight.
Barnaby Pinchwife: Well, I’m just the messenger. Jack, it would be unlike you to disappoint them.
Rodney: Well, Jack, it looks like we’ll be seeing you this evening.
Barnaby Pinchwife: You, however, are not invited.
Horner: I’m not sure I can make it, but tell them if they come it will be at their peril and yours.
Fopling: Come. (Exeunt)
Diana: I can’t believe this. You’re not even Swedish.
Elizabeth: I’m about as Swedish as you are.
Diana: And it was some sort of plot to get old Jasper’s inheritance?
Elizabeth: I’m humiliated to have to admit to such a thing. But I was in love with Rodney. We were going to marry with Jasper’s money. When I stepped back and saw what I was doing I knew I had fabricated a Rodney to love. There is a luster to new love, which, like a flower, is fleeting, easily destroyed and, once gone, never returns.
Diana: Falling in love, Elizabeth, is a learned trait. Most people would never fall in love at all if they hadn’t seen it in a movie first. But that does clear up a lot of things. Serves that young dog right that you stole away on him.
Elizabeth: Stole away before we stole.
Diana: And Rodney’s on the outs?
Elizabeth: As can be. It is impossible to love a second time once you have ceased to love. Jasper and I are planning a honeymoon. Rodney is not invited.
Diana: Is this true?
Diana: It doesn’t seem to have affected Rodney at all. He is just as cheerful as ever. I suppose he thinks you want the money for yourself.
Elizabeth: What money? Jasper’s not rich.
Diana: Well, how are you going to conclude the affair?
Elizabeth: This isn’t a grand scheme. We’ll string Rodney along for a while and then I’ll just off and get along with my life.
Diana: No performance tonight?
Elizabeth: No. I thought I would just flâner a bit.
Diana: Well, I’m on my way to see Jack. We matrons have to perform our charity work. Visit the sick you know.
Elizabeth: So this is where that horrible man lives. Le malade imaginaire.
Diana: I thought you said you weren’t Swedish?
Elizabeth: If he isn’t sick now, he’ll soon catch something and pass it on to every woman in the city.
Rodney: Oh, Heidi. I almost don’t know what to say.
Diana: Rodney speechless. That would be a first in our crowd.
Rodney: We certainly missed you for a while there, Heidi.
Diana: Heidi, yes your friend is named Heidi and everyone in the city knows she’s a famous Swedish actress. Heidi was forced to go to Sweden to visit relatives. Isn’t that so, Heidi? Wasn’t your mother taken ill or something.
Rodney: Sweden? Relatives?
Elizabeth: (as Heidi) Ha, ha! Mrs. Diana does not know I am orphan. No, Diana, I was exhausted artistically and I fled to the country to rejuvenate.
Diana: I suppose that will do. As a new bride I wish you all the best.
Elizabeth: Oh, yes, I so love Mr. Jasper.
Rodney: Have you settled in yet?
Elizabeth: That is none of your business.
Diana: Well, out of the way, Rodney, I’ve come to pay a visit to Jack.
Rodney: You just missed him. He left not five minutes ago with your brother to see…you. Excuse my confusion, but he did just that, he left with Fopling on what was supposed to be a mission of mercy. Fopling came here looking like the grim reaper saying you were on the verge of suicide because you so loved Jack Horner and you would be satisfied with nothing less than marriage.
Diana: But I’m already married.
Rodney: Or some other sort of arrangement. The details be damned! The general point is that you are right now in the spare bedroom at Fopling’s house weeping, gnashing your gencives and making numerous not so subtle threats unless you possessed Jack.
Diana: Rodney, I am standing in front of you. What are you blathering about? I haven’t been at Fopling’s all day. Besides I don’t think I’ve gnashed my teeth for a man in my life. If they don’t come willingly, that’s fine with me. Or should I say, since I married Sparks…
Rodney: Well, if you want Horner he’s at Fopling’s making up to someone who last I heard was you.
Diana: It’s probably Sarah Pinchwife. She must be in league with Fopling somehow. Still, there is only one way to unravel the mystery. Heidi, shall we proceed to Fopling’s?
Rodney: Heidi, I would love a word with you if I could.
Elizabeth: Don’t worry, Diana. I will follow. (Exit Diana)
Rodney: Well, Liz, you’ve certainly made quite a killing for yourself.
Elizabeth: (As herself) Excuse me?
Rodney: Now you’ve got all of Jasper’s money and I’m just a spectator at the wedding. I’ll have to give you credit. I never saw this coming.
Elizabeth: Oh, I see. Rodney, in this world a girl’s got to look out for herself.
Rodney: I must say you had me completely fooled. When did you think up your scheme? Or was this your intention all along, even in Cannes?
Elizabeth: Oh, it was my intention from the very beginning.
Rodney: What if I were to inform on you? Uncle wouldn’t be such a great husband if he knew you were just waiting for him to die.
Elizabeth: Rodney, you are far more evil than even I believed. But I already prepared him. I told Jasper you had designs on his money and would say anything to get it for yourself.
Rodney: I guess I’m too decent a fellow to do that anyway. But don’t be surprised when every Fidget in shouting distance brings suit against you. And I include myself in that group.
Elizabeth: I must leave now. Diana wishes me to go with her. (Exit Elizabeth)
Rodney: Life is cruel. My girlfriend turns out not to be my girlfriend and she marries my uncle for his money. In retrospect I cannot believe I was such a trusting fool, or perhaps in the circumstances “gullible” is a better word. Pure imbecile is now my only role. The world’s reduced my shrinking soul.
Fopling: Come along, Horner, we haven’t a moment to lose. She may take her life without you and then where would you be?
Horner: With one less woman to worry about I suppose. But go ahead and get her, Fopling. I’ve come this far with you.
Fopling: Diana, are you there? I’ve brought Horner along to talk with you, just as you asked. (Commotion within)
Margarita: (Within) Oh, brother dear. I didn’t hear you come in. Is it true? Have you brought me the one man I ever loved that I should not expire from sorrow?
Horner: I can’t believe that Diana’s locked up in that room and talking like some sort of romance novel.
Fopling: She’s been there all day. Diana dear, please come out or at least let us in.
Horner: And where’s Margarita?
Fopling: Where do you think? She’s locked in her room for safekeeping.
Margarita: (Within) I cannot come out, brother. I am so ashamed. I do not wish you to see me as I am, a faithless wife and one whose heart is shattered.
Horner: I’m flattered, Diana, that I have such an effect on you.
Fopling: But how can you talk to Horner if you won’t let us in?
Margarita: (Within) I will see Mr. Horner, but only for a private interview. You must stay outside, brother, for god’s sake!
Horner: “Mr. Horner”
Fopling: Very well, then, open up. Go in, Horner, and hurry. You haven’t much time left. (Exit Horner)
Margarita: You must promise to talk in a whisper. Then I will take my hand off your mouth.
Horner: Thank you. But you may shut me up like that any time. I like the way you lean your body against mine.
Margarita: And I love you so, Mr. Horner. I have been dreaming about having your little penis in my vagina ever since the party for the King of Sweden. A mouth is such an unromantic place to park one’s penis, don’t you agree?
Horner: Little? But, Margarita, where is Diana? Fopling brought me here because Diana was supposed to be on the verge of suicide.
Margarita: Because she loved you so! Don’t you see, silly? I am Diana! I told Fopling Diana had to speak to you in private. It was the only way I could see you again.
Horner: Does the real Diana know about this?
Margarita: I don’t know. I suppose not. I haven’t told her.
Fopling: (Without) Is everything all right in there, you two?
Margarita: (As Diana) Brother, please do not bother us. We have many serious things to say to each other.
Horner: This is hysterical. By the way, I don’t think Diana calls him “brother.” That’s a Margarita-ism if I ever heard one.
Margarita: Here’s another Margarita-ism. (They kiss)
Horner: I don’t suppose there’s any way I could preserve that taste. Margarita, you are a goddess.
Margarita: No more talk. Let’s have sex now.
Fopling: (Without) Margarita, I’m back. You may come out now. Horner is with Diana and all is well.
Horner: What do we do now?
Margarita: We’d be a lot happier fucking in my room. It’s so much cozier. See, I took the key.
Horner: So that’s how you get in and out.
Fopling: (Without) Margarita, can you hear me?
Margarita: Hurry! (They pass to the other room) Baby, I can’t come out now. I’m at my devotions. Did you say Mr. Horner came to see Diana? I’m so glad they are together at last.
Fopling: (Without) Whatever. But don’t be too long.
Margarita: Besides Diana would not be happy if we were all out there listening at her door. Now, Mr. Horner, where were we?
Horner: Your room is certainly unique, Margarita. Is that a squirrel in the cage?
Margarita: Don’t get too close or she’ll scratch. But hurry, slowpoke! My bud’s not going to stay out there forever. I’ve prepared another little room for your penis right here. (They fornicate.)
Fopling: (Without) Is everything all right, Diana?
Margarita: Oh my god! (She passes to the other room. As Diana) Of course, brother Fopling. And please don’t listen at my door. This is private.
Fopling: (Without) I beg your pardon.
Margarita: He didn’t give me the chance to wipe my juices from your cute excited penis. Maybe now I can lick them off.
Fopling: (Without) Are you ready to come out now, Margarita? Where’s that key?
Margarita: Jeepers leepers! (She passes to her room) No, no, baby. It’s a novena and I’ll be finished soon. Oh, Mr. Horner, I’m a victim of stress. Please hold me tight. Maybe we can try the rear way. I’ve never experienced that before and Diana says you’re an expert.
Horner: Margarita, I see that we have all seriously underestimated you.
Fopling: My sister appears to be in an all night confessional with her lover and my wife chooses prayer over freedom. Here I am in my own house reduced to the status of a doorman. I don’t see why we go to all this effort for mere women. A wife is just a scurvy clogdogdo, a nasty sluttish animal. (Enter Diana)
Diana: Sorry I haven’t been around for a while, Fopling, but I do have a life of my own you know. Now what’s going on with you and Jack? I just left Rodney and he’s been burbling some absolute nonsense. Fopling, do you hear me?
Fopling: Oh my god! Oh my god! You, you!
Diana: Yes, Fopling, me, me!
Fopling: You will excuse me. Hello, inside, yoo hoo! Is everything going smoothly? Are you feeling well, my little Hornerkins?
Horner: (within) Everything is fine, Fopling. Have you been drinking.
Fopling: And my dear sister, is she fine as well?
Margarita: (within) Please leave us be, brother. We have many serious matters to discuss.
Fopling: I will leave you be, whore, once I’ve murdered the two of you!
Diana: Fopling, are you out of your mind?
Fopling: These damned doors are too well constructed. I’ll just have to get a crowbar and, oh yes, my pistol. (Exit)
Diana: Excuse me, I hate to disturb whoever is in there, but who is in there? Jack, is it you?
Horner: (within) Yes.
Diana: And who are you with?
Margarita: It is I, Diana Sparks, Fopling’s sister.
Diana: Odd, I thought I was Diana Sparks. I must have been someone else all this time. I won’t hurt you whoever is in there. But I suggest you make some quick plans because Fopling has gone in search of a crowbar and his pistol. (Enter Margarita and Horner) What is going on here?
Margarita: Oh, sister, it was Mr. Horner I saw at Gordon’s and I have been in love with him all along. I pretended to be you so I could meet him again.
Diana: Jack, you rotter. And I suppose Fopling gladly chose to sacrifice Sparks so his own wife would be out of play.
Jack: I was under the impression Sparks had been sacrificed long ago.
Diana: We will talk later. Fopling saw me so I suggest you think quickly or both your heads will be hanging in his trophy room.
Margarita: What can we do, sister? We are doomed.
Elizabeth: Doesn’t anyone answer doors in this city?
Margarita: Oh, Your Highness, we welcome you. If you speak English we will be polite.
Elizabeth: You must be Margarita. I’ve heard quite a bit about you.
Diana: And this is Jack Horner.
Elizabeth: We’ve met.
Diana: Well, you might as well sleep with him also. Everyone else has. That’s it! Margarita, go lock yourself in your room. Elizabeth, can you be Heidi for the moment? You two go in the spare room and, Heidi, whatever Fopling says, just claim you’ve been hiding there ever since you disappeared because you were so much in love with Jack. Don’t ask questions. You will be fine. I guarantee.
Horner: Brilliant. Diana, I shall be faithful to you for life.
Diana: That’s Sarah Pinchwife’s obsession, not mine. Hurry, everyone! (Exeunt Margarita, Elizabeth, Horner) Now to appear composed.
Fopling: Tremble sinners, Avenging Death has arrived!
Diana: Fopling, are you out of your mind? Wait! Have you ever thought that you could simply ask whoever is in there to come out?
Fopling: Out of the way, whorelet!
Diana: Wait, Fopling, let me. Jack and whoever, you are with, could you please come out? We need to talk with you.
(Enter Horner and Elizabeth)
Diana: Dear Heidi, what a surprise! Is this where you have been hiding all this time? Naughty girl.
Elizabeth: (as Heidi) Forgive me, everyone. I cannot stop myself. I so love Mr. Horner.
Diana: No “buts,” Fopling. Isn’t love wonderful?
Fopling: But where is Margarita?
Margarita: How can I finish my prayers with all this shouting?
Fopling: My head is swirling I am so confused.
Diana and Elizabeth: His head is swirling he is so confused.
Margarita: I am saved and I can love Mr. Jack again.
Diana and Elizabeth: She’s saved to love Horner again.
Fopling: What agony!
Horner: This actress really isn’t bad.
Elizabeth: Don’t touch me.
Diana: But Jack’s already tired of her.
Omnes: Can things grow any more insane?
Fopling: Just a minute, just a minute!
Diana and Elizabeth: Oh, what else can go wrong, my dear!
Fopling: If I’m right, yes if I’m right…
Diana, Elizabeth and Margarita: We are waiting. Oh, we can take the suspense no more.
Fopling: If I’m right, I heard my sister through the door and I’m sure her accent wasn’t Swedish.
Margarita: Who else could it be, bud? You don’t expect me to be able to imitate my sister, do you?
Fopling: Well, that would take a certain level of intelligence.
Elizabeth: (As Diana) Not to worry, Fopling dear. I may be foreign, but I am also an actress. (As Heidi) I would do anything for my darling.
Horner: (Aside) Is that true?
Elizabeth: (Aside) Don’t touch me. (Aloud) Now, if you will excuse me, I must make my way to tonight’s performance. No, darling you stay here. You know how I must concentrate in solitude before I go on stage. (Exit)
Diana: Isn’t a happy ending wonderful, Fopling? Why don’t you embrace your little wife and tell her you’re sorry for harboring those awful suspicions.
Horner: Yes, all the girls I’ve won today but one. Yet one more scene to play and then our play is done.
Well, I can’t figure out how, but I just know they’ve put one over on me again. Margarita’s probably bursting with that Horner’s sperm this very moment. No one has any sympathy for the poor old fool. Poor old Fopling. All I wanted was a speck of happiness before I became too infirm, but the girl who could make me happy, whom I nourished from infancy, has been snatched away by the party unfaithful. They certainly have no sympathy for the feelings of an old man. Fopling, you are alone again, a stranger to your sister and your wife. There is no point in being beautiful unless you’re young or young unless you’re beautiful. Well, I suppose I can console myself by making old Fidget miserable. If I see that nephew of his, I’ll tell him also: Their beloved Heidi has been added to Horner’s collection.
Rodney: (Solus) The universe has just received a new and more streamlined set of rules. The puzzle assembled itself on its own. So Uncle Jasper was a ruse. Liz was in love with Horner all the time. And now she’s been meeting secretly with him at Fopling’s house. What a fool I’ve been and what a laughingstock! I thought I had the perfect plan for a happy life with the woman I love and all the time she’s been boffing my best friend. Nationwide audience, this is Rodney. He already knows the identity of the secret mystery guest. (Enter Elizabeth) Liz, these chance meetings are becoming far too frequent.
Elizabeth: Now that we’re separated we seem to see more of each other than ever.
Rodney: Far too much for my taste.
Elizabeth: How’s that?
Rodney: I could tolerate Uncle Jasper. I couldn’t understand it, but I guess I could bear it, though I was going to make darned sure you didn’t get any of his money. But my own best friend! There is nothing lower.
Elizabeth: What are you talking about?
Rodney: Fopling filled me in. During that supposed disappearance of yours you were really seeing Jack secretly in Fopling’s place.
Elizabeth: (Aside) This is the limit. I try to help out that country girl and I end up being ensnared in some new bit of rococo intrigue. She may be a bumpkin, but she fits right in with these people. I’m the one who is being driven insane. (Aloud) So you heard about Jack and me?
Rodney: Don’t deny it. All the women were in league with you. Fopling saw it with his own eyes.
Elizabeth: I’m sure he did. Well, what are you going to do about it?
Rodney: Well, for one thing I’m going to make sure you don’t see a tithe of Uncle Jasper’s money.
Elizabeth: You already said that, Rodney, but you don’t have to worry. I’ve broken off with Jasper. And I’ve broken off with Jack Horner too. In fact I’m breaking off with all of you. When the play has finished its run, I think I’ll retire and become a drug smuggler. Maybe I can have some peace and quiet that way.
Rodney: I hope it keeps fine for you.
Elizabeth: Oh, Rodney.
Elizabeth: Have you ever bothered to ask dear Uncle Jasper exactly what his net worth may be?
Rodney: That would be a bit bold, don’t you think?
Elizabeth: You might try some time. I’m sure he won’t mind.
Horner: (Aside) Chasing a new mistress is a bit like casting for catfish. Neither is so pleasing that you don’t wonder whether the prize was worth the trouble. And mistresses have a way of refusing to be thrown back. (Aloud) You can’t marry me, Margarita. You’re taken.
Margarita: Not yet, but even if I were I could divorce Fopling, silly. City girls do it all the time. Besides, now we’re husband and wife in everything but name. I’m going to tell my bud everything and then we can announce our love to the world.
Horner: (Aside) Under those rules I’ve been a polygamist all this time. (Aloud) But I can hear the virtuous gang. Margarita, why don’t you just step inside here for a moment? I can’t see things getting any more confused than they already are.
Margarita: (Within) Why do my men spend so much time locking me away?
(Enter Sarah Pinchwife, Diana and Venus)
Sarah Pinchwife: You must declare your intentions, Jack. I’m getting too old to be one of the girl scouts.
Venus: Remember, Jack, if you declare for Sarah, you get both of us.
Diana: I’m sure you’re thrilled over the intrusion, but I thought you might prefer having a semi-ally rather than facing Sarah on your own.
Horner: What are you all babbling about?
Sarah Pinchwife: I can’t help it, Jack, I’m possessive. As soon as this woman learned I had a chance for happiness with you she just wanted to ruin it and have a bit for herself.
Diana: Sarah, dearest, Jack Horner isn’t the only man who holds your last chance for happiness. I can think of at least two other last chances without much effort.
Venus: Don’t complicate things, home wrecker. Besides, when it comes to men, you are the all time champion.
Horner: Is that true?
Diana: Well, I….
Venus: Don’t prevaricate. I even know your secret, mistress Diana. Sarah, you are a rank amateur next to this woman. Since you make it quite clear to Barnaby that you would cheat on him at the drop of a hat he knows he must be constantly on guard. Diana the chaste, however, proclaims to all the world that she wouldn’t hurt her poor little Sparks for anything. The result is he is secure in her love and she can gather up men like a thresher in heat.
Horner: Is it true, Diana? Have you been unfaithful to me?
Venus: Shut up, Jack. Perhaps, Diana, if you didn’t squeeze Sarah so much Sparks would continue to sleep easy, alone perhaps but untroubled.
Diana: Do you doubt my reputation?
Venus: Your reputation? Please. Sarah, why should you not think that women use our reputation just as men use theirs, only to deceive the world with less suspicion? Our virtue is like a politician’s religion or a gambler’s IOU. We use it to cheat those who trust us.
Horner: And that demureness, coyness and modesty….
Venus: Is nothing of the sort. It’s a sign to stay away for those who don’t please us and a quiet invitation to those who do.
Sarah Pinchwife: Very funny. I shall keep it in mind, Venus, but meanwhile who gets Jack?
Horner: (Aside) Isn’t it wonderful to feel wanted? (Aloud) I believe I should have a say in all this.
Venus: That’s a good idea. Since Jack’s the prize, why don’t you let him choose?
Diana: You are proposing some sort of contest I presume. Jack, I don’t know if I love you that much.
Venus: Quiet. He will be like Paris. Venus is here already, thank you very much. And Sarah is Hera. Who was the third? Was it Diana?
Diana: Could be.
Horner: Wait, didn’t this lead to some sort of war?
Sarah Pinchwife: I don’t know.
Venus: Well, Diana it is then since none of us can say for sure who the third contestant was. Go ahead, Jack, choose.
Horner: Just like that? If I’m going to be a judge I must be wooed. Why don’t you show me some of your wares first?
Sarah Pinchwife: You’ve seen our wares.
Venus: And felt and tasted them too.
Horner: Well, you’re all perfect.
Venus: Everyone here is perfect.
Diana: I don’t know. I can perceive one or two imperfections here and there.
Sarah Pinchwife: Pray tell us what they are.
Venus: That’s how we will do it. We will critique each other and thereupon Jack may decide. Sarah, do you see any imperfections in our friend Diana?
Sarah Pinchwife: Not really. None to speak of. But…
Venus: But what?
Sarah Pinchwife: Perhaps she’s a bit over buttified.
Venus: Butterflied? I thought that only applied to pork chops.
Diana: Pork chops? What are you talking about?
Sarah Pinchwife: Surfessifié. She’s got a palace sized behind.
Venus: Not that bad, more of a country house.
Margarita: (Peeping in) What’s the matter with them all?
Diana: Well, Sarah Pinchwife, before you talk you should take a look at your nose sometime.
Sarah Pinchwife: Unfair.
Venus: We started it.
Diana: Or your feet.
Sarah Pinchwife: What’s wrong with my feet?
Margarita: Stop everything, you awful women. Poor Mr. Horner is already spoken for. He is going to marry me, Margarita née McGurgle.
Sarah Pinchwife: What?
Venus: Marry? This is getting out of control.
Diana: Has this silly girl been here all this time?
Horner: Well, in the next room actually.
Venus: But you’re already married, or at least engaged.
Horner: I told her that.
Diana: Did you hear our entire conversation?
Margarita: Mr. Horner loves me and has already agreed to marry me.
Horner: Margarita, you must learn a little discretion. It’s part of being a city woman.
Margarita: It is?
Horner: Ladies, pleased excuse her awkwardness. We must remember she has been among us for only a few weeks. Margarita, take Sarah. She would never have burst out like that.
Margarita: She wouldn’t?
Sarah Pinchwife: I wouldn’t?
Horner: City sophistication is to be the hidden and not the exposed, the knowledgeable and not the ignorant…
Venus: …the deceiver and not the deceived.
Horner: The true city woman works hard to be in the position you just occupied, seeing another woman declare her love for your man and all the while she is unaware that you, the true mistress, were hidden in his very closet, mistress of the entire situation. (Aside to Sarah Pinchwife) Control yourself, Sarah, I’m trying to help you.
Sarah Pinchwife: (Aside to Horner) You’re the one who is going to need help.
Horner: And that is why we cannot marry.
Margarita: Because I’m mistress of the situation?
Horner: Yes, Margarita, city women marry only for appearances, usually with someone old and hideous, like, say, Fopling for example…
Venus: It doesn’t hurt to be rich.
Sarah Pinchwife: Fopling is borderline in that respect.
Horner: The true city sophisticate never loves the man she marries. He is more of a business partner. They show each other off to the world’s applause so that she may spend her valuable private time with the man…
Venus: …or men…
Horner: …she truly loves. And in your case, Margarita, I am honored to be counted as that man. For love, my dear, is precious, much too precious to be anything but private. Why sully it with something as vulgar as publicity, as commercial as marriage?
Sarah Pinchwife: Don’t push too hard, Jack, you were fine up till now.
Margarita: Does that mean you don’t want to marry me?
Horner: I could never show you such disrespect.
Diana: Oh, god!
Margarita: But I don’t want to spend all my life with my bud. He hurts me sometimes.
Venus: That fat woman beater deserves all he gets.
Horner: That’s just the point, Margarita darling. Her husband is the man a woman spends the least time with. If you really want to be close to a man, never marry him.
Venus: Whom does she see most often?
Sarah Pinchwife: Her boss probably.
Margarita: So you are saying that if I love you I must not marry you?
Horner: That’s the city way of doing things.
Margarita: The city is so confusing.
Horner: So it’s settled then. Ladies, as you can see, I may not and cannot choose between you because I am committed to Margarita. (Aside to Sarah Pinchwife) Sarah, I’m winking at you. Please don’t disturb the balance or Margarita will ignite a war with Fopling.
Sarah Pinchwife: (Aside to Horner) What balance? I hate you now.
Horner: And you and I, Margarita, can continue our love as nature intended it, behind Fopling’s back.
Venus: They’ll both fit there very comfortably.
Diana: I must congratulate you, Jack. You’ve just jumped through two burning hoops and somersaulted in mid-air over a lake of acid.
(Enter Barnaby Pinchwife and Peter Little)
Venus: Oops, more acid.
Barnaby Pinchwife: Sarah, are you still here at Horner’s? Did you give him his bachelor party? I trust you’ve been nowhere else.
Horner: My home is yours, Barnaby. No need to knock. Just come on in.
Barnaby Pinchwife: Horner, between men (or do I misspeak, ha ha?), between men why stand on ceremony?
Peter Little: I knew once you got to know Horner, you would be inseparable, bound as if with glue.
Venus: Or any number of other fluids.
Barnaby Pinchwife: The reason we stopped in, Horner, is to warn you that Fopling is on his way over here figuratively waving his pistol in the air. Something has obviously got his glands churning.
Venus: What else is new?
Margarita: Goody! I can finally have it out with my baby.
Horner: Remember what I told you.
(Enter Fopling, Jasper and Rodney followed by Elizabeth)
Fopling: She has been betraying you all along with this man. I can prove it. Almost every person here conspired to let them meet together in my home.
Venus: And you had nothing to do with it?
Rodney: Cut her off without a penny, Uncle Jasper.
Jasper Fidget: Don’t get your knickers in a twist, Fopling. Let’s hear what Jack has to say.
Fopling: Out with it, man. Have you or have you not been carrying on a mad, passionate affair with this individual, Heidi Spitzenbuben by name?
Horner: Well, I…
Fopling: You are a fortunate man, Fidget, to have good friends here to defend your honor. If you shoot them both, we will testify it was self-defense.
Rodney: I’ll take care of the arrangements, Uncle. I’m sure we might even get this thing annulled.
Barnaby Pinchwife: I don’t understand. How could Horner have a mad passionate anything?
Diana: Oh, Barnaby, were you born yesterday?
Barnaby Pinchwife: But an affair requires certain basic functions. Oh my god, you’re not telling me Horner retains those functions?
Jasper Fidget (Aside to Elizabeth): What shall we do, tell the truth? I can’t muster the energy to feign the aggrieved husband when I’m not even your husband. Besides I do have a little something against being a laughingstock.
Elizabeth (Aside to Jasper): The problem is if Fopling finds the truth, he might assault poor Margarita.
Jasper Fidget (Aside to Elizabeth): You mean?
Elizabeth (Aside to Jasper): Yes, this all came about because Margarita wanted to screw Jack. She was on the point of being discovered so we had to invent something.
Jasper Fidget (Aside to Elizabeth): Well, the second biggest loser is that idiot nephew of mine.
Elizabeth (Aside to Jasper): Just follow my lead. We’ll have to improvise something. (Aloud as Heidi) Oh Mr. Jasper, can you ever forgive my actions. I am silly emotional girl.
Fopling: Slap her around a bit, Fidget.
Rodney: Cut her off without a penny, Uncle.
Jasper: Now, now, gentlemen, I don’t see what all the fuss is about. A young girl needs a somewhat wider social circle than an old wreck like myself can give her. What’s the harm in a little affair or two. The extra sex is probably good for the complexion.
Elizabeth: Oh Mr. Jasper, you are such a good man. You know in Sweden a girl can have as many lovers as there are days in the week.
Venus: That’s in addition to her husband, I assume.
Jasper: Besides, I was pursuing my own affair while you were getting to know Horner. Diana, I am sorry to have to reveal this, but everything between us should be an open book to my wife from now on.
Elizabeth (Aside to Jasper): You dog.
Jasper (Aside to Elizabeth): I told you I didn’t want to be a laughingstock.
Diana: Fopling, I assure you….
Fopling: Don’t think this surprises me. I’m sure you’d need numerous secretaries to cross- reference all your men. But Sparks, poor fool, will hear about this one.
Diana: Oh god!
Margarita: What’s the matter with all these people?
Rodney: I’m not satisfied, Jack. All along I thought you were my friend. I stood by and even helped while you twiddled Mrs. Fopling and the woman you really wanted was my girlfriend.
Jasper: Excuse me, Rodney, your girlfriend?
Barnaby Pinchwife: And all this while I have been allowing you to run around with this man and you knew he wasn’t sick at all?
Sarah Pinchwife: “Allow” is not quite the word I would have chosen.
Venus Little: “Force,” I think, would have been more appropriate.
Barnaby Pinchwife: No matter. You are a traitor, man.
Rodney: Two times a traitor.
Margarita: Oh, Lord! They’ll kill poor Mr. Horner! Besides I can’t let the Swedish Ambassador force herself on him when he came to see me all the time. I can’t lose another husband so soon! Stay, do not touch poor Mr. Horner.
Fopling: Stay out of this, Margarita.
Margarita: It was I he came to see at Fopling’s residence. It was I who spoke with him in a private. I love Mr. Horner and I will marry him The Swedish Ambassador only pretended to be me to deceive my own bud so he wouldn’t hurt me. But our countries must not go to war.
Horner: Damned, damned loving changeling.
Fopling: I suppose the riddle is plain now.
Diana: Fopling, take time to think this through.
Fopling: I will never hear woman again but make them all silent. (Attacks Margarita)
Horner: No, that must not be.
Fopling: You then shall go first. It’s all one to me.
(Enter Ricardo and Physician)
Ricardo: Stop, all of you. What are doing?
Rodney: What does it look like? We’re avenging ourselves on Horner.
Ricardo: No one deserves to be attacked even in the best of health.
Physician: And Mr. Horner is deathly ill. You may catch the virus if you stray too close.
Barnaby Pinchwife: Oh.
Horner: Yes, make sure not to come into contact with any of my fluids. You too may become impotent.
Sarah Pinchwife: Well, in Mr. Pinchwife’s case that wouldn’t make much of a difference.
Jasper Fidget: Wait a minute, doctor. Are you telling us Horner really is ill?
Physician: Why would you doubt it? Look at him.
Barnaby Pinchwife: He does look a bit green.
Venus Little: That probably has more to do with your eyesight.
Horner (Aside to Ricardo): Are you ever welcome, man. But how did you know to come?
Ricardo (Aside to Horner): Heidi warned me that Fopling was gunning for you, so I thought it might be wise to have some proof that you were unable to get into all the women.
Horner: Thank god!
Physician: I am come to tell you, Mr. Horner, that there may be some hope for your condition. A new course of treatment is being introduced at our clinic. I warn you, however, that, while it may save your life, your sexual functions will never be restored to their former capacity.
Barnaby Pinchwife: Does that mean they will be restored to some percentage of their former capacity?
Physcian: Mr. Horner will be utterly incapable of performing the sexual act for the rest of his life.
Horner: Thank you, doctor. If this promises to save my life, I will clutch at it whatever the cost.
Physician: You are a brave man, Mr. Horner.
Sarah Pinchwife (Aside to Horner): This is a ruse, isn’t it? It had better be.
Horner (Aside to Sarah Pinchwife): Please.
Fopling: Do you mean to tell me that Horner really is sick unto death, that his illness made him impotent and that now you can save his life, but that he will remain impotent? If you are lying, there will be consequences.
Physician: By my Hippocratic oath.
Fopling: Your Hippocratic oath is a hypocritic sham. Swear to me or you will be the one to die.
Diana: Fopling, that’s enough.
Ricardo: I’m surprised, Fopling, that you refuse to believe what has been general knowledge for so long now.
Barnaby Pinchwife: Indeed. Old Anderson has been following the case very closely and he swears…
Margarita: No, no. This is all false. No one shall disparage my poor Mr. Horner for to my certain knowledge….
Elizabeth: Oh hold!
Venus Little: Stop her mouth!
Diana (Aside to Horner): This is what you get for entrusting your secret to a fool.
Horner (Aside to Physician): Doctor, you arrived just in time to save the architecture of my plan. You brought me off safe and unsuspected.
Sarah Pinchwife: I lay it before you, Mr. Pinchwife. Jack has been deathly ill all this time.
Elizabeth: My love for him was purely Platonic. (To Jasper Fidget) I still love you best, my darling.
Jasper Fidget: And I merely invented the affair with Diana so you wouldn’t feel guilty.
Diana: Fopling, I hope you didn’t believe….
Fopling: I don’t know what to believe now. But what of all the things my wife has been saying?
Diana: Come now, Fopling, your wife was innocent as you see. She may have formed an attachment to Jack but he obviously was incapable of anything but friendship. Whatever you may have thought, there never was any sex. I suppose that’s the most important thing to you. Don’t let your imagination gain control of you or else you will make exactly what your fear come true. Women and fortune are truest to those that trust them.
Venus Little: And wild things grow more fierce if you try to cage them and more dangerous to the keeper.
Elizabeth: That’s a doctrine for all husbands, Mr. Jasper.
Jasper Fidget: Well, I guess I must conform, since I am one.
Ricardo: From what I have observed, I will never be one.
Rodney: I have too much self-respect to ever be one.
Horner: And, alas, I can’t be one.
Fopling: But I must be one and against my will to a country wife with a city attitude to boot.
Margarita: And it looks like I must be a country wife still too, for the city women won’t let me get rid of my musty husband and do what I will.
Horner: So your wife is innocent, Fopling, though our little adventure has made light of my shame. I guess I’ll just have to drown my sorrow in drink, which I’ll do straight away. Come, doctor, our play is done. Bring on your dancers.
Diana: So your wife has been innocent all along as I am her witness. She had a puppy love for poor impotent Mr. Horner as we all did, but what she said was more in revenge for your jealousy than anything else. Wasn’t it Margarita? Speak.
Margarita (Aside to Diana and Horner): Since you’ll have me tell more lies…Yes indeed, bud.
Fopling: Why do we do what we do for a woman? If she were ugly, peevish, proud, a whore, perjured and painted, we could excuse her. We expect no more. But she is a woman and so likely to damn us all.
(A dance of cuckolds)
Horner: We think of nothing by day and night except women and more women. But they’re really not so hard to acquire. The secret’s that first by men you must be despised. So that: