(A short scene based on Artemesia Gentleschi’s “Judith and Holofernes: Series, written in iambic pentamemter)
The Maidservant: A young woman, heavily pregnant and a product of the society that she lives in and the way she has been treated all her life; 25
Agonisto: An important, high ranking official of what would eventually become the Esercito Italiano; 59
Modenese: Also a high ranking official in the same organization; 31
(The lights come up on a simple bare room. On the upstage center wall hangs an austere wooden cross. All across stage left is a single clothes string, barely covered with a few worn but clean garments. In the center of the stage, there is a stool on which sits the maidservant, heavily pregnant, dressed exactly like she is in the picture . She is staring straight ahead, stoic and unmoved. Modenes paces behind her while Agnisto sits in a high backed velvet chair down stage right facing her.)
(begging)Speak truth now,
Your young mistress is in the other room
And the tune she sings is at odds with yours,
In the name of God, speak truth and be saved.
I know nothing.
Was it not your hands
Sodden with the blood of Holofernes
Stuft’ in a sack his head while she looked on?
It was not I.
Then let the middle of the earth open
And swallow you whole…..
Truth in trammels and lies, are same
A sin in the eyes of the God you love
Then shame him not to call you his own child.
End this pretense and hold his head up high.
Reject Him and hell shall punish you
Bade Matthew to His people
Loyalty to thine master He said
Judas Sicarius I am not.
What did the man to you and your mistress?
Why suffer he so an affront in death
That ripped you so noble a crown from neck?
The air of Florence rend with cries
A man, a father, friend was he.
An elevated moral man
Of noble birth and generous hand.
Pray speak, to you I swear
None shall suffer but the guilty
And you know who that is.
This nobleman that you laud
Has made his serpentine presence felt
In the chambers of my pure mistress
Against her will, while she wept.
The truth, the truth, the truth asked he
No falsification you institute
Will deliver you from your hateful deed.
My soldier awaits my word
To fetch your cup of Toffana.
If not for you then for whom you there hold
(points to her swollen belly)
Is not the original sin enough?
Why should suffer three for the sin of one?
Has fate not been a cruel enough ruler?
That you feel needful to incite the wrath
Of that the ruler of our state and law?
A small price it is to pay
A feeble sacrifice will it be
Two lives instead of one
The sins of the father, so they say
Must be visited upon the son
What good is a child who cannot pay
The price of a son?
And so what good is a servant who cannot
Pay their dues to their masters?
Never again will St. Peter cry
Deem me worthy he will to judge
And stand by him at the pearly gates
The day you come before me
Without gripe or grouse
Will I step aside
And let you enter.
More assured I am of space in heaven
For this forfeit.
The soul is truly dead and defeated
When betrayal is extinguished by a
Deep servile worship as this, yours.
What good is evil corrected
If it is not the evil that stand corrected?
Grace the law, grace your life.
Speak the truth now
Testify your innocence
It was I.
That killed your noble Holofernes
Why spend such much time on “deep servile worship:?
When do I get my promised death cup?
(Agnosito gives the signal and two guards enter from Stage right. Stoically they nod and hold a cup to her lips. Lights go out.)