Read ACT II of The Resources of Quinola, free online book, by Honore de Balzac, on ReadCentral.com.

SCENE FIRST

(A room in the palace of Senora Brancadori.)

Avaloros, Sarpi and Paquita.

Avaloros
Is the queen of our lives really ill?

Paquita
She is melancholy.

Avaloros
Is thought, then, a malady?

Paquita
Yes, and you therefore can be sure of good health.

Sarpi
Say to my dear cousin that Senor Avaloros and I are awaiting her good
pleasure.

Avaloros
Stay; here are two ducats if you will say that I am sometimes
pensive-

Paquita
I will say that your tastes are expensive.  But I must go and induce
the senora to dress herself. (Exit.)

SCENE SECOND

Avaloros and Sarpi.

Sarpi
Poor viceroy!  He is the youngster.

Avaloros While your little cousin is making a fool of him, you are displaying all the activity of a statesman and clearing the way for the king’s conquest of French Navarre.  If I had a daughter I would give her to you.  Old Lothundiaz is no fool.

Sarpi How fine it would be to be founder of a mighty house; to win a name in the history of the country; to be a second Cardinal Granville or Duke of Alva!

Avaloros Yes!  It would be a very fine thing.  I also think of making a name.  The emperor made the Fuggers princes of Babenhausen; the title cost them a million ducats in gold.  For my part, I would like to be a nobleman at a cheaper rate.

Sarpi
You!  How could you accomplish it?

Avaloros
This fellow Fontanares holds the future of commerce in his own hands.

Sarpi
And is it possible that you who cling so persistently to the actual
have any faith in him?

Avaloros Since the invention of gunpowder, of printing and the discovery of the new world I have become credulous.  If any one were to tell me that a man had discovered the means to receive the news from Paris in ten minutes, or that water contained fire, or that there are still new Indies to discover, or that it is possible to travel through the air, I would not contradict it, and I would give-

Sarpi
Your money?

Avaloros
No; my attention to the enterprise.

Sarpi
If the vessel is made to move in the manner proposed, you would like
then to be to Fontanares what Amerigo Vespucci was to Christopher
Columbus.

Avaloros
Have I not here in my pocket enough to pay for six men of genius?

Sarpi
But how would you manage the matter?

Avaloros By means of money; money is the great secret.  With money to lose, time is gained; and with time to spend, everything is possible; by this means a good business may be made a bad one, and while those who control it are in despair the whole profit may be carried off by you.  Money,-that is the true method.  Money furnishes the satisfaction of desire, as well as of need.  In a man of genius, there is always a child full of unpractical fancies; you deal with the man and you come sooner or later on the child; the child will become your debtor, and the man of genius will go to prison.

Sarpi
And how do you stand with him now?

Avaloros
He does not trust my offers; that is, his servant does not.  I shall
negotiate with the servant.

Sarpi I understand you; I am ordered to send all the ships of Barcelona to the coasts of France; and, through the prudence of the enemies which Fontanares made at Valladolid, this order is absolute and subsequent to the king’s letter.

Avaloros
What do you want to get out of the deal?

Sarpi
The functions of the Grand Master of Naval Construction-these I wish
to be mine.

Avaloros
But what is your ultimate object?

Sarpi
Glory.

Avaloros
You rascally trickster!

Sarpi
Your greedy extortioner!

Avaloros Let us hunt together; it will be time enough to quarrel when we come to the division of the prey.  Give me your hand. (Aside) I am the stronger, and I control the viceroy through the Brancadori.

Sarpi (aside)
We have fattened him sufficiently, let us kill him; I know how to
destroy him.

Avaloros
We must gain over this Quínola to our interests, and I have sent for
him to hold a conference with the Brancadori.

SCENE THIRD

The same persons and Quínola.

Quínola I hang between two thieves.  But these thieves are powdered over with virtue and tricked out with fine manners.  And they would like to hang the rest of us!

Sarpi
You rogue, while you are waiting for your master to propel the galleys
by new methods, you ought to be rowing in them yourself.

Quínola
The king, who justly appreciates my merits, well understands that he
would lose too much by such an arrangement.

Sarpi
You shall be watched!

Quínola
That I can well believe, for I keep watch on myself.

Avaloros (to Sarpi)
You are rousing his suspicions, for he is an honest lad. (To Quínola)
Come my good fellow, have you any idea of what is meant by wealth?

Quínola
No, for I have seen it from too great a distance.

Avaloros
Say, such a sum as two thousand golden doubloons?

Quínola What?  I do not know what you mean!  You dazzle me.  Is there such a sum?  Two thousand doubloons!  That means to be a land-holder, to own a house, a servant, a horse, a wife, an income; to be protected instead of being chased by the Holy Brotherhood!-What must I do to gain it?

Avaloros
You must assist me in obtaining a contract for the mutual advantage of
your master and myself.

Quínola I understand!  To tangle him up.  O my conscience, that is very fine!  But, dear conscience, be silent for a while; let me forget you for a few days, and we will live comfortably together for the rest of my life.

Avaloros (to Sarpi)
We have him.

Sarpi (to Avaloros)
He is fooling us!  If he were in earnest he would not talk thus.

Quínola
I suppose you won’t give me the two thousand doubloons in gold until
after the treaty has been signed.

Sarpi (with eagerness)
You can have it before.

Quínola
You don’t mean it! (Holding out his hand) Give it me then.

Avaloros
As soon as you sign notes of hand for the amounts which have already
matured.

Quínola
The Grand Turk himself never offered the bowstring with greater
delicacy.

Sarpi
Has your master got his ship?

Quínola
Valladolid is at some distance from this, I admit; but we control in
that city a pen which has the power of decreeing your disgrace.

Sarpi
I will grind you to powder.

Quínola
I will make myself so small that you can’t do it.

Avaloros
Ah! you scoundrel, what do you propose to do?

Quínola
To talk to you about the gold.

SCENE FOURTH

The same persons, Faustine and Paquita.

Paquita Gentlemen, here is the senora. (Exit.)

SCENE FIFTH

The same persons, with the exception of Paquita.

Quínola (approaching the Brancadori) Senora, my master talks of killing himself unless he can obtain the ship which Count Sarpi has refused for thirty days to give him; Senor Avaloros asks for his life while offering him his purse; do you understand? (Aside) A woman was our salvation at Valladolid; the women shall be our salvation at Barcelona. (Aloud) He is very despondent.

Avaloros
The wretched man seems daring enough.

Quínola
Daring without money is naturally amazing to you.

Sarpi (to Quínola)
Will you enter my service?

Quínola
I am too set in my ways to take a master.

Faustine (aside)
He is despondent! (Aloud) Why is it that men like you, Sarpi and
Avaloros, for whom I have done so much, should persecute, instead of
protecting, the poor man of genius who has so lately arrived among us? 
(Avaloros and Sarpi are confused.) I cry shame upon you! (To Quínola)
You must explain to me exactly their schemes against your master.

Sarpi (to Faustine)
My dear cousin, it does to need much penetration to divine what malady
it is under which you have labored since the arrival of this
Fontanares.

Avaloros (to Faustine)
You owe me, senora, two thousand doubloons, and you will need to draw
still further on my purse.

Faustine
I?  What have I ever asked of you?

Avaloros
Nothing, but you never refuse anything which I am generous enough to
offer you.

Faustine
Your monopoly of the wheat trade is a monstrous abuse.

Avaloros
Senora, I owe you a thousand doubloons.

Faustine Write me at once a receipt for the two thousand doubloons, and a check for the like sum which I do not intend to pay you. (To Sarpi) After having put you in the position in which you now flourish, I warn you that your best policy is to keep my secret.

Sarpi
My obligations to you are too great to admit of my being ungrateful.

Faustine (aside)
He means just the contrary, and he will make the viceroy furious with
me.

(Exit Sarpi.)

SCENE SIXTH

The same persons, with the exception of Sarpi.

Avaloros Here they are, senora. (Handing her the receipt and the check.)

Faustine
Very good.

Avaloros
We shall be friends?

Faustine
Your monopoly of the wheat trade is perfectly legal.

Avaloros
Ah! senora.

Quínola (aside)
That is what is called doing business.

Avaloros
Senora, you are a noble creature, and I am-

Quínola (aside)
A regular swindler.

Faustine (offering the check to Quínola)
Here, Quínola, this is for the expenses of your master’s machine.

Avaloros (to Faustine)
Don’t give it to him, senora, he may keep it for himself, and for
other reasons you should be prudent; you should wait-

Quínola (aside)
I pass from the torrid to the arctic zone; what a gamble is life!

Faustine You are right. (Aside) Better that I should hold in a balance the fortune of Fontanares. (To Avaloros) If you wish to keep your monopoly hold your tongue.

Avaloros There is nothing keeps a secret better than capital. (Aside) These women are disinterested until the day they fall in love.  I must try to defeat her; she is beginning to cost me too much. (Exit.)

SCENE SEVENTH

Faustine and Quínola.

Faustine
Did you not tell me he was despondent?

Quínola
Everything is against him.

Faustine
But he knows how to wrestle with difficulties.

Quínola
We have been for two years half drowned in difficulties; sometimes we
have gone to the bottom and the gravel was pretty hard.

Faustine
But what force of character, what genius he has!

Quínola
You see, there, senora, the effects of love.

Faustine
And with whom is he in love now?

Quínola
Still the same-Marie Lothundiaz.

Faustine
A doll!

Quínola
Yes, nothing but a doll.

Faustine
Men of talent are all like that.

Quínola
Colossal creatures with feet of clay!

Faustine
They clothe with their own illusions the creature that entangles them;
they love their own creation; they are egotists!

Quínola (aside) Just like the women! (Aloud) Listen, senora, I wish that by some honest means we could bury this doll in the depths of the-that is-of a convent.

Faustine
You seem to me to be a fine fellow.

Quínola
I love my master.

Faustine
Do you think that he has noticed me?

Quínola
Not yet.

Faustine
Speak to him of me.

Quínola
But then, he would speak to me by breaking a stick across my back.  You
see, senora, that girl-

Faustine
That girl ought to be forever lost to him.

Quínola
But he would die, senora.

Faustine
He must be very much in love with her.

Quínola Ah! that is not my fault!  All the way here from Valladolid I have a thousand times argued the point, that a man like he ought to adore women, but never to love an individual woman!  Never-

Faustine You are a pretty worthless rascal!  Go and tell Lothundiaz to come and speak with me and to bring his daughter with him. (Aside) She shall be put in a convent.

Quínola (aside)
She is the enemy.  She loves me so much that she can’t help doing us a
great deal of harm. (Exit.)

SCENE EIGHTH

Faustine and Fregose.

Fregose
While you expect the master, you spend your time in corrupting the
servant.

Faustine
Can a woman ever lose her habit of seduction?

Fregose
Senora, you are ungenerous; I should think that a patrician lady of
Venice would know how to spare the feelings of an old soldier.

Faustine Come, my lord, you presume more upon your white hair than a young man would presume upon his fairest locks, and you find in them a stronger argument than in-(She laughs).  Let me have no more of this petulance.

Fregose How can I be otherwise than vexed when you compromise yourself thus, you, whom I wish to be my wife?  Is it nothing to have a chance of bearing one of the noblest of names?

Faustine
Do you think it is too noble for a Brancadori?

Fregose
Yet, you would prefer stooping to a Fontanares!

Faustine But what if he could raise himself as high as to a Brancadori?  That would be a proof of love indeed!  Besides, as you know from your own experience, love never reasons.

Fregose
Ah!  You acknowledge that!

Faustine
Your friendship to me is so great that you have been the first to
learn my secret.

Fregose Senora!  Yes, love is madness!  I have surrendered to you more than myself!  Alas, I wish I had the world to offer you.  You evidently are not aware that your picture gallery alone cost me almost all my fortune.

Faustine
Paquita!

Fregose
And that I would surrender to you even my honor.

SCENE NINTH

The same persons and Paquita.

Faustine (to Paquita)
Tell my steward that the pictures of my gallery must immediately be
carried to the house of Don Fregose.

Fregose
Paquita, do not deliver that order.

Faustine The other day, they tell me, the Queen Catherine de Medici sent an order to Diana of Poitiers to deliver up what jewels she had received from Henry II.; Diana sent them back melted into an ingot.  Paquita, fetch the jeweler.

Fregose
You will do nothing of the kind, but leave the room.

(Exit Paquita.)

SCENE TENTH

The same persons, with the exception of Paquita.

Faustine
As I am not yet the Marchioness of Fregose, how dare you give your
orders in my house?

Fregose
I am quite aware of the fact that here it is my duty to receive them. 
But is my whole fortune worth one word from you?  Forgive an impulse of
despair.

Faustine One ought to be a gentleman, even in despair; and in your despair you treat Faustine as a courtesan.  Ah! you wish to be adored, but the vilest Venetian woman would tell you that this costs dear.

Fregose
I have deserved this terrible outburst.

Faustine You say you love me.  Love me?  Love is self-devotion without the hope of recompense.  Love is the wish to live in the light of a sun which the lover trembles to approach.  Do not deck out your egotism in the lustre of genuine love.  A married woman, Laura de Nova, said to Petrarch, “You are mine, without hope-live on without love.”  But when Italy crowned the poet she crowned also his sublime love, and centuries to come shall echo with admiration to the names of Laura and Petrarch.

Fregose There are very many poets whom I dislike, but the man you mention is the object of my abomination.  To the end of the world women will throw him in the face of those lovers whom they wish to keep without taking.

Faustine
You are called general, but you are nothing but a soldier.

Fregose
Indeed, and how then shall I imitate this cursed Petrarch?

Faustine If you say you love me, you will ward off from a man of genius-(Don Fregose starts)-yes, there are such-the martyrdom which his inferiors are preparing for him.  Show yourself great, assist him!  I know it will give you pain, but assist him; then I shall believe you love me, and you will become more illustrious, in my sight at least, by this act of generosity than by your capture of Mantua.

Fregose Here, in your presence, I feel capable of anything, but you cannot dream of the tempest which will fall upon my head, if I obey your word.

Faustine
Ah! you shrink from obeying me!

Fregose
Protect him, admire him, if you like; but do not love him!

Faustine
The ship given him by the king has been held back; you can restore it
to him, in a moment.

Fregose
And I will send him to give you the thanks.

Faustine
Do it!  And learn how much I love you.

(Exit Don Fregose.)

SCENE ELEVENTH

Faustine (alone)
And yet so many women wish that they were men.

SCENE TWELFTH

Faustine, Paquita, Lothundiaz and Marie.

Paquita Senora, here are Senor Lothundiaz and his daughter. (Exit.)

SCENE THIRTEENTH

The same persons, excepting Paquita.

Lothundiaz
Ah! senora, you have turned my palace into a kingdom!

Faustine (to Marie)
My child, seat yourself by me. (To Lothundiaz) Be seated.

Lothundiaz
You are very kind, senora; but permit me to go and see that famous
gallery, which is spoken of throughout Catalonia.

(Faustine bows assent and Lothundiaz leaves the room.)

SCENE FOURTEENTH

Faustine and Marie.

Faustine My child, I love you and have learned of the position in which you stand.  Your father wishes you to marry my cousin Sarpi, while you are in love with Fontanares.

Marie
And have been for five years, senora.

Faustine
At sixteen one knows not what it is to love.

Marie
What does that matter, if I love him?

Faustine
With us, sweet girl, love is but self-devotion.

Marie
I will devote myself to him, senora.

Faustine
What!  Would you give him up if that were for his interest?

Marie
That would be to die, but yet my life is wholly his.

Faustine (aside as she rises from her seat) What strength in weakness and innocence! (Aloud) You have never left your father’s house, you know nothing of the world nor of its hardships, which are terrible!  A man often dies from having met with a woman who loves him too much, or one who loves him not at all; Fontanares may find himself in this situation.  He has powerful enemies; his glory, which is all he lives for, is in their hands; you may disarm them.

Marie
What must I do?

Faustine By marrying Sarpi, you will assure the triumph of your dear Fontanares; but no woman would counsel such a sacrifice; it must come, it will come from you.  At first you must dissemble.  Leave Barcelona for a time.  Retire to a convent.

Marie
And never see him again?  Ah!  If you knew-he passes every day at a
certain hour under my windows, and that hour is all the day to me.

Faustine (aside)
She stabs me to the heart!  Oh!  She shall be Countess Sarpi.

SCENE FIFTEENTH

The same persons and Fontanares.

Fontanares (to Faustine) Senora. (He kisses her hand.)

Marie (aside)
What a pang I feel!

Fontanares Shall I live long enough to testify my gratitude to you?  If I achieve anything, if I make a name, if I attain to happiness, it will be through you.

Faustine Why that is nothing!  I merely tried to smooth the way for you.  I feel such pity for men of talent in misfortune that you may ever count upon my help.  Yes, I would go so far as to be the mere stepping-stone over which you might climb to your crown.

Marie (drawing Fontanares by his mantle)
But I am here, I (he turns around), and you never saw me.

Fontanares
Marie!  I have not spoken to you for ten days! (To Faustine) Oh!
senora, what an angel you are!

Marie (to Fontanares)
Rather say a demon. (Aloud) The senora was advising me to retire to a
convent.

Fontanares
She!

Marie
Yes.

Faustine
Children that you are, that course were best.

Fontanares
I trip up, it seems, on one snare after another, and kindness ever
conceals a pitfall. (To Marie) But tell me who brought you here?

Marie
My father!

Fontanares
He!  Is he blind?  You, Marie, in this house!

Faustine
Sir!

Fontanares
To a convent indeed, that she might dominate her spirit, and torture
her soul!

SCENE SIXTEENTH

The same persons and Lothundiaz.

Fontanares And it was you who brought this angel of purity to the house of a woman for whom Don Fregose is wasting his fortune and who accepts from him the most extravagant gifts without marrying him?

Faustine
Sir!

Fontanares You came here, senora, widow of a cadet of the house of Brancadori, to whom you sacrificed the small fortune your father gave you; but here you have utterly changed-

Faustine
What right have you to judge my actions?

Lothundiaz
Keep silence, sir; the senora is a high born lady, who has doubled the
value of my palace.

Fontanares
She!  Why she is a-

Faustine
Silence!

Lothundiaz My daughter, this is your man of genius!  Extreme in everything, but leaning rather to madness than good sense.  Senor Mechination, the senora is the cousin and protector of Sarpi.

Fontanares
Well, take your daughter away from the house of the Marchioness of
Mondejar of Catalonia.

(Exeunt Lothundiaz and Marie.)

SCENE SEVENTEENTH

Faustine and Fontanares.

Fontanares
So, senora, your generosity was merely a trick to serve the interests
of Sarpi!  We are quits then!  And so farewell. (Exit.)

SCENE EIGHTEENTH

Faustine and Paquita.

Faustine
How handsome he looked in his rage, Paquita!

Paquita
Ah! senora, what will become of you if you love him in this way?

Faustine My child, I feel that I have never loved before, and in an instant I have been transformed as by a stroke of lightning.  In one moment I have loved for all lost time!  Perhaps I have set my foot upon the path which leads to an abyss.  Send one of my servants to the house of Mathieu Magis, the Lombard.

(Exit Paquita.)

SCENE NINETEENTH

Faustine (alone) I already love him too much to trust my vengeance to the stiletto of Monipodio, for he has treated me with such contempt that I must bring him to believe that the greatest honor he could win would be to have me for his wife!  I wish to see him groveling at my feet, or I will perish in the attempt to bring him there.

SCENE TWENTIETH

Faustine and Fregose.

Fregose
What is this?  I thought to find Fontanares here, happy in the
possession of the ship you gained for him.

Faustine You have given it to him then, and I suppose hate him no longer.  I thought the sacrifice would be above your strength, and wished to know if hate were stronger than obedience.

Fregose
Ah! senora-

Faustine
Could you take it back again?

Fregose
Whether obedient or disobedient, I cannot displease you.  Good heavens! 
Take back the ship!  Why, it is crowded with artisans who are its
masters.

Faustine
You never know what I want, and what I do not want.

Fregose
His death?

Faustine
No, but his disgrace.

Fregose
And in that I shall avenge myself for a whole month of anguish.

Faustine
Take care to keep your hands off what is my prey.  And first of all,
Don Fregose, take back your pictures from my gallery. (Don Fregose
shows astonishment).  It is my will.

Fregose
You refuse then to be marchioness of-

Faustine
They shall be burned upon the public square or sold, and the price
given to the poor.

Fregose
Tell me, what is your reason for this?

Faustine
I thirst for honor and you have ruined mine.

Fregose
Accept my name and all will be well.

Faustine
Leave me, I pray you.

Fregose
The more power you have, the more you abuse it. (Exit.)

SCENE TWENTY-FIRST

Faustine (alone) So, so!  I am nothing then but the viceroy’s mistress!  He might as well have said as much!  But with the aid of Avaloros and Sarpi I intend to have a pretty revenge-one worthy of old Venice.

SCENE TWENTY-SECOND

Faustine and Mathieu Magis.

Mathieu Magis
I am told the senora has need of my poor services.

Faustine
Pray tell me, who are you?

Mathieu Magis
Mathieu Magis, a poor Lombard of Milan, at your service.

Faustine
You lend money?

Mathieu Magis I lend it on good security-diamonds or gold-a very poor business.  Our losses are overwhelming, senora.  And at present money seems actually to be asleep.  The raising of maravédis is the hardest of farm-labor.  One unfortunate deal carries off the profits of ten lucky strokes, for we risk a thousand doubloons in the hands of a prodigal for three hundred doubloons profit.  The world is very unjust to us.

Faustine
Are you a Jew?

Mathieu Magis
In what sense do you mean?

Faustine
In religion.

Mathieu Magis
I am a Lombard and a Catholic, senora.

Faustine
You disappoint me.

Mathieu Magis
Senora would have wished-

Faustine
I would have wished that you were in the clutches of the Inquisition.

Mathieu Magis
Why so?

Faustine
That I might be certain of your fidelity.

Mathieu Magis
I keep many secrets in my strong box, senora.

Faustine
If I had your fortune in my power-

Mathieu Magis
You would have my soul.

Faustine (aside)
The only way to gain this man’s adherence is by appealing to his
self-interest, that is plain. (Aloud) You lend-

Mathieu Magis
At twenty per cent.

Faustine
You don’t understand what I mean.  Listen; you are lending the use of
your name to Senor Avaloros.

Mathieu Magis
I know Senor Avaloros.  He is a banker; we do some business together,
but his name in the city stands too high and his credit in the
Mediterranean is too sound for him to need the help of poor Mathieu
Magis-

Faustine
I see, Lombard, you are very cautious.  If you wish to lend your name
to promote an important business undertaking-

Mathieu Magis
Is it smuggling?

Faustine
What difference does it make?  The question is, what would guarantee
your absolute silence?

Mathieu Magis
High profit.

Faustine (aside) This is a rare hunting dog. (Aloud) Very well, I am going to entrust you with a secret of life and death, for I purpose giving up to you a great man to devour.

Mathieu Magis
My small business feeds on the great passions of life; (aside) where
there is a fine woman, there is a fine profit.

Curtain to the Second Act.