The Maid Servant Speaks

by aditimittal

(A short scene based on Artemesia Gentleschi’s “Judith and Holofernes: Series, written in iambic pentamemter)

CAST

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.)

Modenese

(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.

The Maidservant

I know nothing.

Agonisto

Was it not your hands

Sodden with the blood of Holofernes

Stuft’ in a sack his head while she looked on?

The Maidservant

It was not I.

Agonisto

Then let the middle of the earth open

And swallow you whole…..

Modenese

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.

The Maidservant

Reject Him and hell shall punish you

Bade Matthew to His people

Loyalty to thine master He said

Judas Sicarius I am not.

Agonisto

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?

Modenese

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.

The Maidservant

This nobleman that you laud

Has made his serpentine presence felt

In the chambers of my pure mistress

Against her will, while she wept.

Agonisto

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.

Modenese

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?

The Maidservant

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.

Agonisto

The soul is truly dead and defeated

When betrayal is extinguished by a

Deep servile worship as this, yours.

Modenese

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

The Maidservant

It was I.

That killed your noble Holofernes

(To Agonisto)

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.)

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