THE HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA

 

(La Casa de Bernarda Alba)

 

 

By Federico Garcia Lorca

 

In a new translation by Caridad Svich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact:

New Dramatists

424 West 44th Street, NY, NY 10036

E-mail: newdramatists@newdramatists.org

 

Or VM: 212-886-1814

csvich21@aol.com

 

 

 

 

 

February 2003.

 

 

 

 

 2.

 

THE HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA

 

 

Characters:

 

BERNARDA, sixty years old

MARIA JOSEFA, Bernardaís mother, eighty years old

ANGUSTIAS, Bernardaís daughter, thirty-nine years old

MAGDALENA, Bernardaís daughter, thirty years old

AMELIA, Bernardaís daughter, twenty-seven years old

MARTIRIO, Bernardaís daughter, twenty-four years old

ADELA, Bernardaís daughter, twenty years old

SERVANT, fifty years old

PONCIA, sixty years old

PRUDENCIA, fifty years old

BEGGAR WOMAN with LITTLE GIRL

WOMEN MOURNERS

WOMAN 1

WOMAN 2

WOMAN 3

WOMAN 4

YOUNG GIRL

 

 


3

Act One

Act Two

Act Three

 

Authorís note: These three acts are intended as a photographic document

 

 

 

ACT ONE

 

An extremely white inner room in Bernardaís house. Solid walls. Arched doorways with jute curtains edged with tassels and ruffles. Cattail chairs. Nonrealistic landscapes of nymphs and fairy-tale kings. It is summer. A great ominous silence fills the stage. When the curtain rises, the stage is empty. The sound of tolling bells is heard. The Servant enters.

 

SERVANT

The sound of those bells is right inside my head.

 

PONCIA

(Appears eating bread and sausage) Theyíve been tolling for more than two hours now. Priests have come from all the villages. The church looks beautiful. During the first response Magdalena fainted.

 

SERVANT

Sheís the one who will be the most alone.

 

PONCIA

She was the only one her father loved. Ay! Thank God weíre alone for a little while!I have come to eat.

 

SERVANT

If Bernarda were to see youÖ!

 

PONCIA

Since now sheís not eating, she wants us all to starve! She is so bossy, so domineering! Well, she can go to hell. I have opened her sausage jar.

 

 

 


4.

 

SERVANT

(With sad longing) Poncia, why donít you give me some for my little girl?

 

PONCIA

Go ahead. And take a fistful of chickpeas too while youíre at it. She wonít notice a thing today!

 

VOICE

(From off) Bernarda!

 

PONCIA

The old woman. Is she locked up properly?

 

SERVANT

With two turns of the key.

 

PONCIA

You should put the bar across as well. Her fingers are like five picklocks!

 

VOICE

Bernarda!

 

PONCIA
(calling out) Sheís near! (To Servant) Make sure everything is sparkling clean. If Bernarda doesnít see everything shining here, sheíll pull out what little hair Iíve got left.

 

SERVANT

Oh, that woman!

 

PONCIA
Tyrant of all she surveys. She could sit on your heart and watch you die slowly for a year and not once unfix that cold smile from her damn face! Go on, go on, and clean those dishes!

 

SERVANT

My hands are blood raw from washing-up all the time.

 

PONCIA
Sheís the cleanest, sheís the most decent, and sheís the most superior of beings!†††† Her poor husband has earned himself a good long rest.

 

[The bells stop.]

 

 


5.

SERVANT

Have all the relatives come?

 

PONCIA
Only those on her side of the family. His family hates her. They came to make sure he was dead, and send him on his way.

 

SERVANT

Are there enough chairs?

 

PONCIA
More than enough. Let them sit on the floor. No one has ever set foot in this house
since Bernardaís father died. She doesnít want anyone to see her on her own stomping ground. Damn her to hell!

 

SERVANT

Sheís always been good to you.

 

PONCIA
Thirty years I have washed her sheets; thirty years I have eaten her scraps. Iíve spent many a sleepless night when sheís had a cough; Iíve spent whole days spying on the neighbors through the window slits so I could bring her all the gossip. There have been no secrets between us, and yet, I still say damn her to hell! Iíd like to stick a burning nail in her eyes!

 

SERVANT

Woman!

 

PONCIA

But Iím a good bitch: I bark when Iím told, and when she sets me upon them, I bite the heels of those who come begging at our door. My sons work in her fields; theyíre both married now. One day I will have enough of this.

 

SERVANT

And on that dayÖ

 

PONCIA
On that day I will lock myself up in a room with her and spit at her for an entire year: ĎBernarda, this is for this, and for that, and for that other thing.Ē Iíll spit on her until she looks like one of those lizards the children have squashed. Thatís what she is: a lizard. Her and her whole family. Not that I envy the life she leads. She has five girls on her hands, five ugly daughters, and only the eldest, Angustias, has any money to her name because sheís

 

 


6.

 

her first husbandís daughter. The rest of them: lots of fine lace and linen camisoles, but nothing to their names but bread and water.

 

SERVANT

Wouldnít I give to have what they have!

 

PONCIA
Weíve got only our hands and a hole in Godís earth.

 

SERVANT

Thatís the only land those who have nothing are allowed to inherit.

 

PONCIA
(by the cupboard) This glass still has some spots on it.

 

SERVANT

Not even with soap or a rag will they come off.

 

[The bells ring.]

 

PONCIA
The last prayer. Iím going to hear it. I love how the priest sings. In the paternoster his voice went up and up and up like a pitcher slowly being filled with water. Of course, in the end, his voice cracked unbearably, but it still was a joy to listen to him. However, thereís no one like Tronchapinos, the old sexton. He sang at my motherís mass, God rest her soul! The walls used to shake and when heíd say the Amen it was as if a wolf had entered the church.
(Imitating him) A-a-aóaóme-e-n! [She begins to cough]

 

SERVANT

Youíre going to strain your windpipe.

 

PONCIA

I used to strain something else! [She goes out laughing]

 

[The servant cleans. The bells ring.]

 

SERVANT

(Picking up the bellsí rhythm) Ding, ding, dong. Ding, ding, dong. May God forgive him!

 

BEGGAR WOMAN

(With a little girl in hand) Praise be to God!

 

 


7.

 

SERVANT

Ding, ding, dong. May He wait for us many years from now! Ding, ding, dong.

 

BEGGAR WOMAN

(Loudly, with frustration) Praise be to God! 

 

SERVANT

(Annoyed) May He be always!

 

BEGGAR WOMAN

Iíve come for the leftovers.

 

[The bells stop.]

 

SERVANT

Thatís the way out. Todayís scraps are for me!

 

BEGGAR WOMAN

Woman, youíve got someone to take care of you. My little girl and I are alone in this world.

 

SERVANT

So are the dogs and they survive just fine.

 

BEGGAR WOMAN

They always give me the scraps.

 

SERVANT

Get out of here. Who told you you could come in? Look at the mess youíve made with your dirty feet! (Beggar Woman leaves. The Servant cleans) Floors, cupboards, pedestals, iron bed frames polished with oil, while those of us who live in huts of mud with only a spoon and a plate to our name have to swallow the bitter pill. I pray for the day when none of us is left to tell the tale! [The bells peal again] Yes, yes, ring those bells! Bring the wooden box with its fine gold trim and silk straps to carry it! Weíll both end up the same! You can rot, Antonio Maria Benavides, stiff in your woven suit and your high boots! You can rot! Never again will you lift my skirt behind the doors to your stable!

 

[At the back of the stage, two by two, the Women Mourners enter. They wear voluminous black skirts, and shawls and carry black fans. They enter slowly until they have filled the stage.]

 

 


8.

 

SERVANT

(Begins to wail) Oh, Antonio Maria Benavides! Never again will you see these walls or eat the bread of this house! Of all the women who served you, I was the one who loved you the most. (Pulling at her hair) Must I go on living after youíve gone? Must I go on living?

 

[The two hundred women are now inside the house. Bernarda enters with her five daughters. Bernarda leans on a walking stick.]

 

BERNARDA

(To the Servant) Silence!

 

SERVANT

(Weeping) Bernarda!

 

BERNARDA

Less howling and more work! You should have made sure this place was much cleaner for the mourners. Get out. This isnít your place. [The Servant exits weeping] The poor are like animals. Itís as if theyíre made of different stuff.

 

WOMAN 1

The poor feel their sorrows too.

 

BERNARDA

But they forget them when you put a plate of chickpeas in front of them.

 

YOUNG GIRL

(Timidly) You canít live without eating.

 

BERNARDA

A girl of your age doesnít speak in front of her elders.

 

WOMAN 1

Child, be quiet.

 

 

BERNARDA

I have never let anyone lecture me. Be seated!

 

[They sit. Pause.]

 

(Forcefully) Magdalena, donít cry. If you want to cry, get under your bed. Do you hear me?

 

 


9.

 

WOMAN 2

(To Bernarda) Have you started the threshing?

 

BERNARDA

Yesterday.

 

WOMAN 3

The sun beats down like lead.

 

WOMAN 1

Itís been years since itís been this hot.

 

[Pause. They all fan themselves]

 

BERNARDA

Is the lemonade ready?

PONCIA

Yes, Bernarda.

 

[Poncia enters with a large tray full of small white pitchers, which she hands out.]

 

BERNARDA

Give some to the men as well.

 

PONCIA

They have some in the courtyard.

 

BERNARDA

Make sure they leave the way they came in. I donít want them coming through here.

 

 YOUNG GIRL

(To Angustias) Pepe el Romano was with the mourners.

 

ANGUSTIAS

Yes, he was.

 

BERNARDA

His mother was. She saw his mother. Neither of us saw Pepe.

 

YOUNG GIRL

I thoughtÖ

 

 


10.

 

BERNARDA

The one who was there was the widower from Darajali. Very close to your aunt.†††† We all saw him.

 

WOMAN 2

(Aside, whispering) Wicked woman. Worse than wicked!

 

WOMAN 3

(Aside, whispering) A tongue like a knife!

 

BERNARDA

Women in church should not look at any other man except for the priest, and only at him because he wears a skirt. Those who look elsewhere seek the warmth of a pair of trousers.

 

WOMAN 1

(Whispering) Dried up old lizard!

 

PONCIA

(Muttering) Like a twisted vine reaching out for a manís heat!

 

BERNARDA

(Beating the floor with her stick) Praise be to God!

 

ALL

(Crossing themselves) Praised and blessed may He be forever and ever.

 

BERNARDA
Rest in peace, with the heavenly host above you.

 

ALL

Rest in peace!

 

BERNARDA

With Saint Michael the Archangel

And his sword of justice.

 

ALL
Rest in peace!

 

BERNARDA

With the key that opens all doors,

And the hand that closes them.

 

 


11.

ALL

Rest in peace!

 

BERNARDA

With those that are blessed

And the little lights of the field.

 

ALL

Rest in peace!

 

BERNARDA
With our holy charity,

And the souls on land and sea.

 

ALL
Rest in peace!

 

BERNARDA

Grant peace to your servant Antonio Maria Benavides and give him the crown of your blessed glory.

 

ALL

Amen!

 

BERNARDA

(Rises, and chants) Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.

 

ALL

(Rise and chant in Gregorian fashion) Et lux perpetua luceat eis.

 

[They cross themselves]

 

WOMAN 1

God grant you health to pray for his soul.

 

[They begin to file out]

 

WOMAN 3

You shall never want for a loaf of bread.

 

WOMAN 2

Nor a roof over your daughtersí heads.

 

[They all file out past Bernarda. Angustias goes out through the door that leads to the courtyard.]

 

12.

WOMAN 4

May you still enjoy the blessings of your marriage.

 

PONCIA

(Entering with a bag) I bring this on behalf of the men: a bag of money for prayers.

 

BERNARDA

Thank them and pour them a glass of brandy.

 

YOUNG GIRL

Magdalena.

 

BERNARDA

(To Magdalena, who is starting to cry) Shhh.

 

[She hits the ground with her stick.  The Women Mourners leave.]

 

(As they leave)  Run back to your caves and criticize everything you have seen!††††† May years pass before you cross my threshold again!

 

PONCIA

You canít complain, Bernarda. The whole village came.

 

BERNARDA

Yes, to fill my house with the sweat of their underskirts and their venomous tongues.

 

AMELIA

Mother, donít speak that way!

 

BERNARDA

It is the only way to speak when you live in a cursed village without a river, without wells, where one is always drinking water with the fear it might be poisoned.

 

PONCIA
Look what theyíve done to the floor!

 

BERNARDA

As if a herd of goats had walked across it. [Poncia scrubs the floor] Child, give me a fan.

 

 


13.

 

ADELA

Take this one. (She hands her a round fan decorated with red and green flowers)

 

BERNARDA

(Hurling the fan to the floor) Is this the kind of fan you give a widow? Hand me a black one, and learn to respect the mourning of your father.

 

MARTIRIO

Take mine.

 

BERNARDA

And you?

 

MARTIRIO

I donít feel hot.

 

BERNARDA

Then find another one. Youíre going to need it. In the eight years this mourning will last not a breeze will enter this house. Imagine we have sealed the doors and windows with bricks. Thatís how it was in my fatherís house and in my grandfatherís too. In the meantime you can embroider your trousseaus. I have twenty pieces of linen in the chest so you can cut out sheets and veils. Magdalena can embroider them.

 

MAGDALENA

Itís all the same to me.

 

ADELA

(Bitterly) If you donít want to embroider them, then leave them just as they are.††† That way yours will look much better.

 

MAGDALENA

Neither yours nor mine. I know Iíll never get married. Iíd rather carry sacks to the mill. Anything but sit here day after day in this dark room.

 

BERNARDA

Thatís what it means to be a woman.

 

MAGDALENA

Cursed be all women.

 

 


14.

BERNARDA

Here you will do what I say. You canít go telling tales to your father anymore.††††††††† A needle and thread for women. A whip and a mule for men. Thatís how it is for people that are born with means.

 

[Adela goes out]

 

VOICE

(From Off) Bernarda, let me out!

 

BERNARDA

(Loudly) Let her out now!

 

[The Servant enters]

 

SERVANT

I could hardly keep her down. She may be eighty, but your mother is as tough as an oak tree.

 

BERNARDA

It runs in the family. My grandmother was the same.

 

SERVANT

Several times while the mourners were here I had to gag her with an empty sack because she kept wanting to call out to you so you could give her the dishwater and dog-meat she says you always give her.

 

MARTIRIO

Sheís a troublemaker.

 

BERNARDA

(To Servant) She can let off steam in the courtyard.

 

SERVANT

Sheís taken her amethyst earrings and fine rings out of the jewelry box, and put them on. She says she wants to get married.

 

[The daughters laugh]

 

BERNARDA

Go with her. Make sure she doesnít go near the well.

 

SERVANT

Donít worry. She wonít throw herself in.

 

 


15.

 

BERNARDA

Oh, itís not that. I just donít want the neighbors to see her from their windows.

 

[The Servant goes out]

 

MARTIRIO

Weíre going to change.

 

BERNARDA

Very well, but not your headscarves.

 

[Adela enters]

 

Whereís Angustias?

 

ADELA

(Pointedly) I saw her peeping through the crack in the main door. The men have just left.

 

BERNARDA

And why were you at the door?

 

ADELA

I went to see if the hens had laid.

 

BERNARDA

But the men must have left already!

 

ADELA
(pointedly) There was a group still standing outside.

 

BERNARDA

(Furiously) Angustias! Angustias!

 

ANGUSTIAS

(Entering) What do you want?

 

BERNARDA

What and who were you looking at?

 

ANGUSTIAS

No one.

 

BERNARDA
Is it proper for a woman of your class to be throwing a man the bait on the

 


16.

 

day of her fatherís funeral? Answer me! Who were you looking at?

 

[Pause]

 

ANGUSTIAS

 

BERNARDA

Yes, you.

 

ANGUSTIAS

No one!

 

BERNARDA

(Advancing with her stick) You spineless, syrupy creature! (She strikes her)

 

PONCIA

(Running) Bernarda, calm down! (She holds her)

 

[Angustias is crying]

 

BERNARDA

All of you: out!

 

[They leave]

 

PONCIA

She did it without thinking. It was wrong, of course. It was a shock to see her sneaking away towards the courtyard. Then she stood by a window, listening to the menís conversations, which are, as always, not fit to hear.

 

BERNARDA

Thatís what they come to funerals for! (With curiosity) What were they talking about?

 

PONCIA

They were talking about Paca la Roseta. Last night they tied her husband to a manger, and they carried her off on horseback to the top of the olive-grove.

 

BERNARDA

And sheÖ?

 

 


17.

PONCIA
She was willing. They say she went with her breasts exposed, and Maximiliano was holding her tight, as though he was strapping on a guitar. Disgusting!

 

BERNARDA
And then what happened?

 

PONCIA
What was bound to happen. They came back when it was almost daybreak. Paca la Roseta had her hair down and a crown of flowers on her head.

 

BERNARDA

She is the only loose woman in our village.

 

PONCIA
Because sheís not from here. Sheís from far away. And the men who went with her are also sons of foreigners. The men from here arenít capable of such things.

 

BERNARDA

No, but they like to witness it and talk about it, and they suck their fingers when it happens.

 

PONCIA
They were saying a lot of other things too.

 

BERNARDA
(looking about with some apprehension) What sort of things?

 

PONCIA
Iím ashamed to mention them.

 

BERNARDA

And my daughter heard them.

 

PONCIA

Of course!

 

BERNARDA

She takes after her aunts: white and dripping sweet and making goo-goo eyes at any common barberís least bit of flattery. How we have to suffer and struggle to make sure people behave decently and donít run wild!

 

 


18.

PONCIA
Your daughters are old enough to deserve such things. They hardly give you any trouble. Angustias must be well over thirty by now.

 

BERNARDA

Thirty-nine to be exact.

 

PONCIA
Imagine. And sheís never had a suitorÖ

 

BERNARDA

(Furiously) No, none of them has ever had a suitor, nor have they need of one! They do just fine as they are.

 

PONCIA

I didnít mean to offend you.

 

BERNARDA

Thereís no one for a hundred miles around that can compare to them. The men around here are not of their class. Would you have me offer them to just anyone?

 

PONCIA

You should have gone to another village.

 

BERNARDA

To sell them, oh yes!

 

PONCIA

No, Bernarda, for a changeÖ Of course, somewhere else they would be the poor ones!

 

BERNARDA

Hold your tormenting tongue!

 

PONCIA

Thereís no reasoning with you. Are we or are we not friends?

 

BERNARDA

We are not. You serve me and I pay you. Thatís all!

 

SERVANT

(Entering) Don Arturoís here to discuss the will.

 

BERNARDA

Letís go then. (To Servant) Start whitewashing the courtyard.

 

19.

 

(To Poncia) And you, put all the clothes of the deceased in the big chest.

 

PONCIA

We could give some of the thingsÖ

 

BERNARDA

Nothing. Not a button! Not even the handkerchief we used to cover his face!

 

[She goes out slowly, leaning on the stick. As she goes, she looks back at her servants. The servants leave. Amelia and Martirio enter.]

 

AMELIA

Have you taken your medicine?

 

MARTIRIO

For the good it will do me!

 

AMELIA

You have taken it, then.

 

MARTIRIO

I do things without believing in them, but I do them anyway, like a clock.

 

AMELIA

Since the new doctor came, you seem a bit livelier.

 

MARTIRIO

I feel the same.

 

AMELIA

Did you notice? Adelaide wasnít at the funeral.

 

MARTIRIO

I knew she wouldnít be. Hr fiancť wonít let her out of the house. She used to be happy. Now she doesnít even powder her face.

 

AMELIA

Itís hard to know any more if itís better to have a fiancť or not.

 

MARTIRIO

Itís all the same.

 

 


20.

AMELIA

Gossip is to blame. It makes life impossible. Adelaide must have had a bad time.

 

MARTIRIO

Theyíre terrified of our mother. Sheís the only one who knows the truth about her father and how he got his land. Whenever she comes here, Mother sticks the knife right in. In Cuba her father killed his first wifeís husband in order to marry her. Then, when they got here, he abandoned her and went off with another woman who had a daughter, and he had an affair with the girl, Adelaideís mother, and he married her after his second wife had gone mad and died.

 

AMELIA

And why isnít the bastard in jail?

 

 

MARTIRIO

Because men cover up for each other when it comes to such things. No oneís willing to speak out.

 

AMELIA

But Adelaideís not to blame for that.

 

MARTIRIO

No, but stories repeat themselves. Everything is just one horrible repetitive cycle. Her fate is the same as her motherís and her grandmotherís, both wives to the man who fathered her.

 

AMELIA

Itís too horrible!

 

MARTIRIO

Itís better never to look at a man. Ever since I was a child I have been frightened of them. I would see them in the stable-yard yoking the oxen and lifting the sacks of wheat, shouting and stamping their feet, and I was always afraid to grow up and find myself suddenly in one their arms. God has made me weak and ugly and has kept them away from me forever.

 

AMELIA
Donít say such things! Enrique Humanes was after you once, and I know he liked you.

 

MARTIRIO

People like to make up stories!

 


21.

 

I stood in my nightgown, and waited at my window once all night because he told his farmhandís daughter heíd stop by, and he never did. It was all just talk. Then he married another girl who had more money than I.

 

AMELIA

And ugly as hell.

 

MARTIRIO

Whatís ugliness to them? All they care about is land, oxen, and to have a submissive bitch to feed them.

 

AMELIA

Oh!

 

[Magdalena enters]

 

MAGDALENA

What are you doing?

 

MARTIRIO

As you see.

 

AMELIA

And you?

 

MAGDALENA

Just walking through the rooms. To stretch my legs a bit. Iíve been looking at the pictures Grandmother used to embroider on canvas Ė the little poodle, the black man fighting the lion Ė the ones we liked so much when we were children. That was a happier time. A wedding used to last ten days and malicious gossip wasnít in fashion. Today everythingís more refined, brides wear white veils like they do in the bigger cities, we drink bottled wine, but we waste away thinking about what people might say about us.

 

MARTIRIO

God only knows what went on in those days!

 

AMELIA

(To Magdalena) Your shoelace is undone.

 

MAGDALENA
What of it!

 

AMELIA

Youíll step on it and fall!

 

 


22.

MAGDALENA

One lessÖ

 

MARTIRIO

Whereís Adela?

 

MAGDALENA

Ah! She put on her green birthday dress, ran out to the stable-yard and started to shout: ĎHens, hens, look at me.í I had to laugh.

 

AMELIA

If Mother had seen her!

 

MAGDALENA

Poor girl! Sheís the youngest of us all and is filled with hope. Iíd give anything to see her happy!

 

[Pause. Angustias crosses the stage carrying some towels.]

 

 

ANGUSTIAS

What time is it?

 

MAGDALENA

It must be twelve by now.

 

ANGUSTIAS

That late?

 

AMELIA

Itís about to strike.

 

[Angustias leaves]

 

MAGDALENA

(Pointedly) Have you heardÖ? (Indicating Angustias)

 

AMELIA

No.

 

MAGDALENA

Come on!

 

MARTIRIO

I donít know what youíre talking about!

 

 


23.

MAGDALENA

You know more than I. You are always together, head to head, like little sheep. But you never tell anybody anything. This business with Pepe el Romano!

 

MARTIRIO

Ah!

 

MAGDALENA

(Imitating her) Ah! Itís the talk of the town. Pepe el Romano is to marry Angustias. He was outside the house last night, and I think soon he will be sending someone to ask for her hand.

 

MARTIRIO

Iím glad. Heís a good man.

 

AMELIA

Me too. Angustias has some fine qualities.

 

MAGDALENA
Neither of you is glad.

 

MARTIRIO

Magdalena!

 

MAGDALENA

If he wanted Angustias for Angustias, I would be glad, but the only reason heís after her is for her money. Angustias is our sister, but weíre all family here, we know she is old and ailing, and has always been the one with the least amount to offer as a woman, anyway, among all of us. If she looked like a broomstick wrapped in a dress when she was twenty, whatís she look like now that sheís forty?

 

MARTIRIO

Donít talk like that. Luck comes to the one who least expects it.

 

AMELIA

Sheís right, though! Angustias has her fatherís money, sheís the only rich one in the house, and now, that our father has died and his estate is being shared out, theyíre after her.

 

MAGDALENA

Pepe el Romano is twenty-five years old and the handsomest man for miles around. It would be natural for him to be courting you Amelia or Adela, since sheís only twenty years old, but not to go after the dullest thing in the

 


24.

 

house, a woman who talks through her nose, like her father did.

 

MARTIRIO

Maybe he likes her!

 

MAGDALENA

I have never been able to put up with your hypocrisy!

 

MARTIRIO

Heaven preserve us!

 

[Adela enters]

 

MAGDALENA

Have the hens seen you yet?

 

ADELA

What was I supposed to do?

 

AMELIA

If Mother sees you, sheíll drag you by the hair!

 

ADELA

I was so delighted with the dress. I was planning to wear it the day we go to eat watermelons by the waterwheel. There wouldnít have been another one like it.

 

MARTIRIO

Itís a lovely dress!

 

ADELA

And it becomes me. Itís the best thing Magdalena has ever made.

 

MAGDALENA

And what did the hens have to say to you?

 

ADELA

They gave me some of their fleas. My legs are covered in bites.

 

[They laugh]

 

MARTIRIO

What you can do is dye it black.

 

 


25.

 

MAGDALENA

The best thing she can do is give it to Angustias for her wedding with Pepe el Romano!

 

ADELA

(Suppressing emotion) But Pepe el RomanoÖ!

 

AMELIA

Havenít you heard?

 

ADELA

No.

 

MAGDALENA
Well, now you know!

 

ADELA

But itís not possible!

 

MAGDALENA

Money makes everything possible!

 

ADELA

Is that why she followed the mourners out and looked through the door? (Pause) And is that man capable ofÖ

 

MAGDALENA

Heís capable of anything.

 

[Pause]

 

MARTIRIO

What are you thinking, Adela?

 

ADELA
I think this time of mourning has come at the worst possible time in my life.

 

MAGDALENA

Youíll grow accustomed to it.

 

ADELA

(Bursting into tears of rage) No, I will not grow accustomed to it! I donít want to be shut out. I donít want my skin to become like yours.

 


26.

 

I donít want to lose my pallor in these rooms. Tomorrow I will put on my green dress and Iíll go for a walk down the street! I want to go out!

 

[The Servant appears]

 

MAGDALENA

(With authority) Adela!

 

SERVANT

Poor child! She misses her father so much! (She goes out)

 

MARTIRIO

Be quiet!

 

AMELIA

What will be for one will be for all.

 

[Adela calms down]

 

MAGDALENA

The servant almost heard you.

 

SERVANT

(Appearing) Pepe el Romanoís at the top of the street.

 

[Amelia, Martirio and Magdalena run quickly]

 

MAGDALENA

Letís go and see him!

 

[They run out]

 

SERVANT

(To Adela) Arenít you going?

 

ADELA

It doesnít matter to me.

 

SERVANT

When he turns the corner, you can see him better from the window of your room. (She leaves)

 

[Adela remains. She is in doubt. After a moment she rushes out and toward her room. Bernarda and Poncia enter]

 

 


27.

BERNARDA
Damn the will!

 

PONCIA

So much money for Angustias!

 

BERNARDA

Yes.

 

PONCIA
And for the others quite a lot less.

 

BERNARDA

Youíve told me that three times already, and I have chosen not to answer you. Quite a lot less, much less. Donít remind me again.

 

[Angustias enters, her face is made up.]

 

Angustias!

 

ANGUSTIAS

Mother.

 

BERNARDA

How dare you powder your face? How dare you even wash your face on the day of your fatherís funeral?

 

ANGUSTIAS

He wasnít my father.  Mine died a long time ago. Donít you remember him anymore?

 

BERNARDA

You owe this man, the father of your sisters, much more than your own father! Thanks to this man you have a fortune.

 

ANGUSTIAS
That remains to be seen.

 

BERNARDA

If only for decencyís sake! Out of respect.

 

ANGUSTIAS

Mother, let me go out.

 

 


28.

BERNARDA

Go out? After I have scrubbed that powder off your face. Rouge-faced little hypocrite! You are the spitting image of your aunts! (With a handkerchief she violently rubs the powder off Angustiasí face) Now get out!

 

PONCIA

Bernarda, donít meddle so much.

 

BERNARDA

My mother may be crazy but Iím not. I know exactly what Iím doing.

 

[The other daughters enter]

 

MAGDALENA
Whatís happening?

 

BERNARDA

Nothingís happening.

 

MAGDALENA

(To Angustias) If youíre arguing about the inheritance, you are the richest one anyway, you can keep it all.

 

ANGUSTIAS

Stick your tongue in your hole!

 

BERNARDA

(Banging on the floor with her stick) Donít you think you can get the better of me! Until I leave this house feet first, I will control my own affairs and yours!

 

[Voices are heard and Maria Josefa, Bernardaís mother, appears. She is very old, and is decked out with flowers in her bosom and hair.]

 

MARIA JOSEFA

Bernarda, where is my mantilla? I donít want anything of mine to be yours. Not my rings, nor my black moirť dress. Because none of you will get married. Not one! Bernarda, give me my pearl choker!

 

BERNARDA

(To Servant) Why did you let her in?

 

 


29.

SERVANT

(Trembling) She got away from me!

 

MARIA JOSEFA

I got away from her because I want to get married, because I want to get married to a handsome man from the sea, because the men here run away from women.

 

BERNARDA

Be quiet, Mother!

 

MARIA JOSEFA

No, no, I wonít be quiet. I donít want to see these unmarried women, foaming at the mouth for a wedding, letting their hearts turn to dust. I want to go back to my village. Bernarda, I want a man to marry and be happy with!

 

BERNARDA

Lock her up!

 

MARIA JOSEFA

Let me go out, Bernarda!

 

[The Servant takes hold of Maria Josefa]

 

BERNARDA

Help her, all of you!

 

[They drag the old woman away]

 

MARIA JOSEFA

I want to leave this place! Bernarda! I want to get married by the seashore, by the seaÖ

 

[Quick curtain.]

 

.

 

30.

 

ACT TWO

A white inner room in Bernardaís house. The doors on the left lead to the bedrooms. Bernardaís daughters are seated on low chairs, sewing. Magdalena embroiders. Poncia is with them.

 

ANGUSTIAS

I have finished cutting the third sheet.

 

MARTIRIO

Itís for Amelia.

 

MAGDALENA

Angustias, shall I put Pepeís initials as well?

 

ANGUSTIAS

(Tersely) No.

 

MAGDALENA

(Calling out) Adela, arenít you coming?

 

AMELIA

Sheíll be lying on her bed.

 

PONCIA

Thereís something wrong with her. Sheís restless, and walks around frightened as if she had a lizard between her breasts.

 

MARTIRIO

She has what all of us have.

 

MAGDALENA

All of us except Angustias.

 

ANGUSTIAS

I feel fine, and anyone who doesnít like it can go to hell.

 

MAGDALENA

Well, one has to admit that the best things about you have always been your figure and your sensitivity.

 

ANGUSTIAS

Fortunately, I will soon be out of this hell.

 

 


31.

 

MAGDALENA

Maybe you wonít leave it!

 

MARTIRIO

Letís change the subject!

 

ANGUSTIAS

Besides, an ounce of gold in the coffers is worth more than having a pair of pretty dark eyes.

 

MAGDALENA

In one ear and out the other.

 

AMELIA

(To Poncia) Open the door to the courtyard. Letís see if we can get some fresh air in here.

(Poncia does so)

 

MARTIRIO

Last night it was so hot I couldnít sleep at all.

 

AMELIA

Me neither!

 

MAGDALENA

I got up to cool myself off. There was a black storm cloud and even a few drops of rain fell.

 

PONCIA
It was one in the morning and fire was coming out of the ground. I also got up. Angustias was at the window with Pepe.

 

MAGDALENA

(Ironically) So late? What time did he leave?

 

ANGUSTIAS

Magdalena, why do you ask if you saw him?

 

AMELIA

He left around one thirty.

 

 


32.

 

ANGUSTIAS

Yes. How do you know?

 

AMELIA

I heard him cough, and I heard the sound of his mareís hooves.

 

PONCIA

But I heard him leave around four!

 

ANGUSTIAS

Then it wasnít him!

 

PONCIA
Iím sure of it!

 

AMELIA

I thought so too.

 

MAGDALENA
Thatís strange!

 

[Pause]

 

PONCIA
Angustias, what was it he said to you the first time he came to your window?

 

ANGUSTIAS

Nothing. What would he say? Everyday things.

 

MARTIRIO

It truly strange that two people that donít know each other would suddenly see each other at a window and become engaged.

 

ANGUSTIAS

Itís not strange to me.

 

AMELIA

I donít know what Iíd feel.

 

ANGUSTIAS

No, because when a man comes to your window he already knows from what heís been told that youíll say Ďyes.í

 

 


33.

 

MARTIRIO

Well, but he had to ask you.

 

ANGUSTIAS

Of course!

 

AMELIA
(with curiosity) And how did he ask you?

 

ANGUSTIAS

Nothing special: ĎYou know Iím after you, and that I need a good modest woman at my side, and youíre that woman, if you agree.í

 

AMELIA
I get embarrassed by such things!

 

ANGUSTIAS

I do too, but you have to put up with them!

 

PONCIA
Did he say anything else?

 

ANGUSTIAS

Yes, he did all the talking.

 

MARTIRIO

What about you?

 

ANGUSTIAS

I couldnít have. My heart was in my mouth. It was the first time I was alone at night with a man.

 

MAGDALENA

And such a handsome man.

 

ANGUSTIAS

Heís not bad.

 

PONCIA

Thatís what happens between people who know a bit about the ways of the world and can talk, and wave their handsÖ The first time I saw my husband Evaristo de Colorin he came to my windowÖ ha, ha, ha.

 

AMELIA

What happened?

 

 


34.

PONCIA
It was very dark. I saw him come near and as he did so he said ďGood evening.Ē And I said to him ďGood evening.Ē And we fell silent for half an hour. The sweat was running down my entire body. Then Evaristo came near again, much nearer, as if he wanted to squeeze through the bars of the window, and he whispered, ďCome, let me feel you!Ē

 

[They all laugh. Amelia rises, runs to the door and peers out.]

 

AMELIA

Oh! I thought Mother was coming.

 

MAGDALENA
Sheíd have given us a piece of her mind, no doubt!

 

[They continue laughing]

 

AMELIA

ShhÖ Sheíll hear us!

 

PONCIA

Afterwards he behaved himself. Instead of being interested in other things, he took to breeding linnets until the day he died. You single women, it would be good for you to know that two weeks after the wedding a man leaves the bed for the table, and the table for the tavern. And the woman who canít get used to this will waste away in a corner crying.

 

AMELIA

You got used to it.

 

PONCIA
I could handle him!

 

MARTIRIO

Is it true you hit him a couple of times?

 

PONCIA

Yes, and I almost put his eye out.

 

MAGDALENA

Thatís the way all women should be!

 

PONCIA
Iím of the same upbringing as your mother in that regard.

 

 


35.

 

One day he said something to me, I donít even remember what, and I killed all his linnets with a rolling pin.

 

[They laugh]

 

MAGDALENA

Adela, child, what youíre missingÖ

 

AMELIA
Adela.

 

[Pause]

 

MAGDALENA
Iíll go and see.
[She goes out]

 

PONCIA
That child is not well!

 

MARTIRIO

How can she be? She barely sleeps!

 

PONCIA
What does she do, then?

 

MARTIRIO

How do I know what she does!

 

PONCIA

You would know better than I. You sleep with just a wall between you.

 

ANGUSTIAS

Envy is eating away at her.

 

AMELIA

Donít exaggerate.

 

ANGUSTIAS

I can see it in her eyes. Sheís starting to get the look of a crazy woman.

 

MARTIRIO

Donít talk of crazy people. This is the only place where that word cannot be mentioned.

 

 


36.

 

[Magdalena enters with Adela]

 

MAGDALENA

You werenít asleep, then?

 

ADELA

I donít feel well.

 

MARTIRIO

(Pointedly) Didnít you sleep well last night?

 

ADELA

Yes.

 

MARTIRIO

Then?

 

ADELA

(Forcefully) Leave me alone! Asleep or awake, what I do is my business! Iíll do what I like with my body.

 

MARTIRIO

I only speak out of concern for you.

 

ADELA

Concern or inquisitiveness? Werenít you sewing? Well then, get on with it. I wish I were invisible so I could walk through these rooms without you asking me where Iím going!

 

SERVANT

(Entering) Bernarda wants you. The man with the lace is here.

 

[They go out. As they do so, Martirio stares at Adela.]

 

ADELA

Stop looking at me! If you want I will give you my eyes, which arenít tired, and Iíll give you my back so you can improve that hump of yours. Turn your head when I go by.

 

[Martirio leaves]

 

PONCIA
Adela, sheís your sister, and whatís more, sheís the one who loves you the most!

 

37.

 

ADELA

She follows me everywhere. Sometimes she looks into my room to see if Iím sleeping. She doesnít let me breathe. And sheís always saying: ďWhat a shame about that face! What a shame about that body that no one will ever see!Ē Sheís wrong about that. My body will be for whomever I want!

 

PONCIA
(pointedly, quietly) You mean for Pepe el Romano?

 

ADELA

(Startled) What do you mean?

 

PONCIA

What I say, Adela!

 

ADELA
Be quiet!

 

PONCIA

(Loudly) Do you think I havenít noticed?

 

ADELA

Lower your voice!

 

PONCIA
You should kill all those thoughts in your head!

 

ADELA

What do you know?

 

PONCIA
Old women can see through walls. Where do you go at night when you get up?

 

ADELA

You should be blind!

 

PONCIA
My head and my hands are full of eyes when it comes to such things. No matter how much I think about it, I still donít know what youíre up to. Why were you standing half-naked with the window open and your lamp light on when Pepe stopped by the second time he came to visit your sister?

 

ADELA

Thatís not true!

 

 


38.

PONCIA
Donít be childish! Leave your sister in peace, and if you like Pepe el Romano, resign yourself.
(Adela cries) Besides, who says you canít marry him? Your sister Angustias is not well. She wonít survive the first birth. Sheís narrow-waisted, old, and from my experience, I can tell you she will die. Then Pepe will do what all the widowers around here do: heíll marry the youngest, the prettiest, and thatís you. Cling to that hope, and forget him. Do what you like, but donít go against Godís law.

 

ADELA

Be quiet!

 

PONCIA
I will not be quiet!

 

ADELA

Mind your own business. Youíre nothing but a nosy, treacherous creature!

 

PONCIA

I shall be your shadow!

 

ADELA

Instead of cleaning the house and going to bed to pray for the dead, you go around like a dirty old woman sticking your nose into what men and women do so you can drool over them.

 

PONCIA
I keep watch! So that people canít spit as they pass this door.

 

ADELA

What tremendous affection you suddenly feel for my sister!

 

PONCIA
I feel no loyalty for any of you but I want to live in a respectable house. Now that Iím old I donít want to be disgraced.

 

ADELA

Your advice is useless. Itís too late already. Not only would I leap right over you, after all, youíre only a servant, but Iíd leap over my mother to put out this fire that rises through my mouth and legs. What can you say about me? That I lock myself in my room, and donít open the door? That I donít sleep? Iím smarter than you!

 


39.

 

See if you can catch a this hare with your hands.

 

PONCIA
Donít defy me. Adela, donít defy me! Because I can shout, I can light the lamps and make the bells ring.

 

ADELA

Bring four thousand yellow flares and put them on the walls of the stable-yard. No one will be able to stop what is inevitable.

 

PONCIA
You want this man so much!

 

ADELA

Yes, so very much! When I look at his eyes it is as if I am slowly drinking his blood.

 

PONCIA
I canít listen to you.

 

ADELA

Well, you will listen to me! I was afraid of you. But now I am stronger than you!

 

[Angustias enters]

 

ANGUSTIAS

You two are always arguing!

 

PONCIA
Of course. She insists that I go get her something from the store in all this heat.

 

ANGUSTIAS

Did you buy the bottle of perfume for me?

 

PONCIA

The most expensive one. And the face powder. Iíve put them on the table in your room.

 

[Angustias leaves]

 

ADELA

Not a word!

 

 


40.

PONCIA
Weíll see about that!

 

[Martirio, Amelia and Magdalena enter]

 

MAGDALENA

(To Adela) Have you seen the lace?

 

AMELIA

The lace for Angustiasí wedding sheets is just beautiful.

 

ADELA
(to Martirio, who is holding some lace) And this?

 

MARTIRIO

Itís for me. For a petticoat.

 

ADELA

(Sarcastically) One has to have a sense of humor!

 

MARTIRIO

(Pointedly) For me to look at. I donít need to show myself off to anybody.

 

PONCIA
No one sees you in your petticoat.

 

MARTIRIO

(Pointedly, looking at Adela) Sometimes! I adore underwear. If I were rich, Iíd have it made of Dutch linen. Itís one of the few pleasures Iíve got left.

 

PONCIA
This lace is ideal for a babyís bonnet, or for a christening gown.  I could never dress mine in it. Letís see if Angustias can use it for hers. If she starts having children, youíll be sewing day and night.

 

MAGDALENA

I donít intend to sew a stitch.

 

AMELIA
And much less look after someone elseís children. Look at the neighbors down the street, martyrs to their four little twerps.

 

 


41.

PONCIA
They are better off than you are. At least they laugh down there, and you hear a fight every now and then!

 

MARTIRIO

Then go and serve them.

 

PONCIA
No. Fate has decreed I serve this convent!

 

[Bells are heard in the distance, as if through several walls]

 

MAGDALENA
Itís the men going back to work.

 

PONCIA
It struck three just a moment ago.

 

MARTIRIO

In this heat!

 

ADELA

(Sitting down) Oh, if only I could go out to the fields too!

 

MAGDALENA

(Sitting down) Each class has its own obligations.

 

MARTIRIO

(Sitting down) Just so!

 

AMELIA

(Sitting down) Oh!

 

PONCIA
Thereís nothing like being in the fields at this time of the year. Yesterday morning the harvesters came. Forty or fifty good-looking men.

 

MAGDALENA
Where are they from this year?

 

PONCIA
From a long way away. They came from the mountains. Joyous! Their skin the color of burnt trees! Shouting and throwing stones! Last night a woman arrived in the village dressed in sequins. She danced to an accordion, and fifteen of the men hired her and took her with them to the olive-grove.

 

 


42.

 

I saw them from a long way off. The one who arranged it was a young man with green eyes, lean as a sheaf of wheat.

 

AMELIA

Is that true?

 

ADELA

Itís possible!

 

PONCIA
Years ago another one of these women came to the village and I myself gave her some money so my eldest could go with her. Men need these things.

 

ADELA

They are forgiven everything!

 

AMELIA

To be born a woman is the greatest punishment.

 

MAGDALENA
Even our eyes arenít our own.

 

[From a distance, singing is heard. It draws near]

 

PONCIA
Itís them. They have some beautiful songs.

 

AMELIA
They are going out to reap now.

 

CHORUS

The reapers go

They go harvesting

And they will take with them

The hearts of all the girls

who are watching.

 

[Tambourines and carraŮacas are heard. Pause. All the women listen in a silence pierced by sunlight.]

 

AMELIA

The heat doesnít bother them!

 

 


43.

MARTIRIO

They reap in tongues of fire.

 

ADELA

Iíd like to be a reaper so I could come and go at will. Then Iíd forget whatís gnawing at us.

 

MARTIRIO

What do you have to forget?

 

ADELA
Each one knows her heart.

 

MARTIRIO

(With feeling) Each one of us!

 

PONCIA

Be quiet! Be quiet!

 

CHORUS

(Very distant) Village girls,

open your windows and doors;

The reaper wants your roses

To decorate his crown.

 

PONCIA
What a song!

 

MARTIRIO

(Nostalgically) Village girls,

open your windows and doors;

 

ADELA

(Passionately) The reaper wants your roses

to decorate his crown.

 

[The singing grows faint]

 

PONCIA
They are turning the corner now.

 

 


44.

 

ADELA

Letís go see them from the window of my room.

 

PONCIA
Be careful. Donít open the window too much or they will push it to see whoís looking at them.

 

[The three of them leave. Martirio remains seated on the low chair with her head in her hands]

 

AMELIA

(Approaching) Whatís wrong?

 

MARTIRIO

The heat is getting to me.

 

AMELIA

Is that all?

 

MARTIRIO

I canít wait for November to come, the rainy days, the frost; anything but this endless summer.

 

AMELIA

It will pass and come round again.

 

MARTIRIO

Of course! (Pause) What time did you go to sleep last night?

 

AMELIA
I donít know. I sleep like a log. Why?

 

MARTIRIO

Nothing. I thought I heard people in the stable-yard.

 

AMELIA
Really?

 

MARTIRIO

It was very late.

 

AMELIA

Werenít you scared?

 

 


45.

MARTIRIO

No. Iíve heard it other nights.

 

AMELIA

We should be careful. Could it have been the farmhands?

 

MARTIRIO

The farmhands come at six.

 

AMELIA

Perhaps a young mule that needs to be broken in.

 

MARTIRIO

(Muttering) Yes, yes, a young mule that needs to be broken in.

 

AMELIA

We should warn the others.

 

MARTIRIO

No, no. Donít say anything. I might have imagined it.

 

AMELIA

Perhaps.

 

[Pause. Amelia starts to leave]

 

MARTIRIO

Amelia.

 

AMELIA

(At the door) What?

 

[Pause]

 

MARTIRIO

Nothing.

 

[Pause]

 

AMELIA

Why did you call me?

 

[Pause]

 

 


46.

 

MARTIRIO

It slipped out. I wasnít thinking.

 

[Pause]

 

AMELIA

Rest a while.

 

ANGUSTIAS

(Entering furiously, so that there is a significant contrast with the previous silences) Where is the picture of Pepe that was under my pillow? Which one of you has it?

 

MARTIRIO

None of us.

 

AMELIA

Itís not as if Pepe was a silver Saint Bartholomew!

 

[Poncia, Magdalena, and Adela enter]

 

ANGUSTIAS

Where is the picture?

 

ADELA

What picture?

 

ANGUSTIAS

One of you has hidden it.

 

MAGDALENA

How dare you say that?

 

ANGUSTIAS

It was in my room and now itís gone.

 

MARTIRIO

Might not it have slipped away to the stable-yard at night? Pepe likes to walk in the moonlight.

 

ANGUSTIAS

Donít waste your jokes on me! When he comes, Iíll tell him.

 

PONCIA
Donít! It will turn up!
(Looking at Adela)

 

 


47.

 

ANGUSTIAS

I would like to know which one of you has it!

 

ADELA

(Looking at Martirio) Someone does! Not me!

 

MARTIRIO

(Pointedly) Of course not!

 

BERNARDA

(Entering with walking stick) What noise is this in my house midst the silence of the stifling heat? The neighbors must have their ears glued to the walls.

 

ANGUSTIAS

Theyíve stolen my fiancťís picture.

 

BERNARDA

(Fiercely) Who? Who?

 

ANGUSTIAS

Them!

 

BERNARDA

Which one of you? (Silence) Answer me! (Silence. To Poncia) Search the rooms, look in the beds. This is comes from not having you on a shorter leash. But I will haunt you in your dreams! (To Angustias) Are you sure?

 

ANGUSTIAS

Yes.

 

BERNARDA

Youíve looked for it diligently?

 

ANGUSTIAS

Yes, Mother.

 

[They are all standing. An awkward silence.]

 

BERNARDA

At this stage of my life you have me drink the bitterest poison a mother could possibly swallow. (To Poncia) You canít find it?

 

PONCIA

(Entering) Here it is.

 

 


48.

 

BERNARDA

Where did you find it?

 

PONCIA

It wasÖ

 

BERNARDA

Speak without fear.

 

PONCIA

(Surprised) Between the sheets of Martirioís bed.

 

BERNARDA

(To Martirio) Is this true?

 

MARTIRIO

Yes, it is!

 

BERNARDA

(Advancing, striking her with her cane) May you be cut to pieces, you little good-for-nothing! Always making trouble in this house!

 

MARTIRIO

(Fiercely) Donít you hit me, Mother!

 

BERNARDA

Iíll hit you as many times as I want!

 

MARTIRIO

If I let you! Do you hear? Get away from me!

 

PONCIA

Show your Mother some respect.

 

ANGUSTIAS

(Holding Bernarda) Leave her alone. Please!

 

BERNARDA

Not a tear left in your eyes.

 

MARTIRIO

I will not cry to please you.

 

 


49.

 

BERNARDA

Why did you take the picture?

 

MARTIRIO

Canít I play a joke on my sister? Why else would I want it?

 

ADELA

(Erupting with jealousy) It wasnít a joke. You never liked jokes. There was something else that was boiling up inside you that was bursting to get out. Say it.

 

MARTIRIO

Be quiet. Do not make me talk, because if I do the walls will close in from shame.

 

ADELA
Thereís no end to what an evil tongue will tell!

 

BERNARDA

Adela!

 

MAGDALENA
Youíre both crazy.

 

AMELIA
And you bombard us with your evil thoughts.

 

MARTIRIO

There are others who do far worse things.

 

ADELA

Until they are stripped naked and let the river current carry them away.

 

BERNARDA

You are a wicked girl!

 

ANGUSTIAS

Itís not my fault Pepe el Romano took a shine to me.

 

ADELA

For your money!

 

ANGUSTIAS

Mother!

 

 


50.

 

BERNARDA

Silence!

 

MARTIRIO

For your land and your orchards.

 

MAGDALENA

Thatís the truth!

 

BERNARDA

Silence, I say! I could see the storm coming, but I didnít know it would break so soon. Oh, what a shower of stones has rained down on my heart! But Iím not an old woman yet. Iíve got five chains Ė for each of you, and these walls that my father built so that not even the weeds would know my desolation. Get out of here!

 

[They leave. Bernarda sits in despair. Poncia is standing close to the wall. Bernarda composes herself, bangs the floor, and says:

 

I shall have to take a firm grip! Remember, Bernarda, it is your duty.

 

PONCIA

May I speak?

 

BERNARDA

Speak. Iím sorry you had to hear that. Itís not good to have an outsider in the middle of a family.

 

PONCIA

What Iíve seen, Iíve seen.

 

BERNARDA

Angustias has to get married at once.

 

PONCIA
Of course. You have to get her away from here.

 

BERNARDA

Not her. Him!

 

PONCIA
Of course, you have to get him away from here! Thatís good thinking.

 

 


51.

 

BERNARDA

I donít think. There are things you cannot and should not think about. I command.

 

PONCIA

And you think he will want to leave?

 

BERNARDA

(Rising) What are you thinking about in that little head of yours?

 

PONCIA
He, of course, will marry Angustias!

 

BERNARDA

Speak. I know you well enough to know youíre ready to stick the knife in.

 

PONCIA

I never thought a warning could be called murder.

 

BERNARDA

You have to warn me about something?

 

PONCIA
Iím not accusing you, Bernarda. I only say: open your eyes, and you will see.

 

BERNARDA

See what?

 

PONCIA
You have always been clever. You could always see the worst in a person a hundred miles away. I often thought you could read peopleís thoughts. But itís different with your children. Now you are blind.

 

BERNARDA

You mean Martirio?

 

PONCIA
Well, MartirioÖ
(With curiosity) Why did she hide the picture?

 

BERNARDA

(Wanting to protect her daughter) She says it was a joke, after all.

 

 


52.

 

What else could it be?

 

PONCIA

(Sarcastically) You believe that?

 

BERNARDA

(Vigorously) I donít believe it. Itís true!

 

PONCIA
Fair enough. Itís your family. But if it was the neighbor across the street, what then?

 

BERNARDA

Now you are starting to draw the knife.

 

PONCIA

(With sustained cruelty) No, Bernarda: thereís something very serious going on here. I donít want to blame you, but you havenít let your daughters be free. Martirio falls in love easily, whatever you say. Why didnít you let her marry Enrique Humanes? Why did you send him a message not to come, on the very day he was going to come to her window?

 

BERNARDA

(Forcefully) Iíd do it a thousand times! My blood will not mix with that of the Humanes clan, not as long as I live! His father was a farmhand.

 

PONCIA

And what have your pretensions gotten you?

 

BERNARDA

I have pretensions because I can afford to have them. And you donít have them because you know full well what your origins are.

 

PONCIA

(With hatred) Donít remind me! Iím an old woman now. I have been always grateful for your protection.

 

BERNARDA

(Imperiously) It doesnít seem that way!

 

PONCIA

(With hatred wrapped in sweetness) Martirio will forget this.

 


53.

 

BERNARDA

And if she doesnít forget it, the worse it will be for her. I donít think this is the ďSomething very seriousĒ that is going on here. Nothing is going on here. Thatís what youíd like! And if one day something were to happen here, I assure you it will not leave these walls.

 

PONCIA
I donít know about that! In the village there are those that also can read hidden thoughts from afar.

 

BERNARDA

How you would love to see me and my daughters walking to the whorehouse!

 

PONCIA
No one can predict where they will end up.

 

BERNARDA

I know what my end will be! And of my daughters too! The whorehouse is reserved for a certain dead womanÖ

 

PONCIA

(Fiercely) Bernarda, respect my motherís memory!

 

BERNARDA

Then stop hounding me with your evil thoughts!

 

[Pause]

 

PONCIA
Itís best if I keep out of everything.

 

BERNARDA

It is the best you can do. Work and keep your mouth shut. Thatís the duty of anyone who is paid to work.

 

PONCIA
But I canít. Donít you think Pepe is better suited to marry Martirio orÖ yes, Adela?

 

BERNARDA

I donít think so.

 

 


54.

 

PONCIA

(Pointedly) Adela. She is Pepeís true fiancť!

 

BERNARDA

Things are never as we wish.

 

PONCIA

But itís hard for people to go against their true nature. I think itís wrong that Pepe is with Angustias. Other people, even Nature would agree. Who knows if theyíll get what they want?

 

BERNARDA

Here we go again! ÖYou slip words in to fill me with bad dreams. And I donít want to understand you because if I were to grasp fully what youíre saying I would tear you to pieces.

 

PONCIA
It wonít come to that!

 

BERNARDA

Fortunately my daughters respect me and they have never gone against my wishes!

 

PONCIA

Thatís true. But as soon as you set them free they will climb up to the rooftop.

 

BERNARDA

And Iíll bring them down with stones!

 

PONCIA

Youíve always been the bravest one!

 

BERNARDA

I always fought the good fight!

 

PONCIA
But funny how things turn out! At her age, you should see how excited Angustias is about her fiancť! And he seems taken with her as well. Yesterday my eldest son told me that at four thirty in the morning, when he went past with the oxen, they were still talking.

 

BERNARDA

At four thirty?

 

 


55.

 

ANGUSTIAS

(Entering) Itís a lie!

 

PONCIA
Thatís what they told me.

 

BERNARDA

(To Angustias) Speak!

 

ANGUSTIAS

For more than a week now Pepe has been leaving at one. May God strike me dead if Iím lying.

 

MARTIRIO

(Entering) I also heard him leave at four.

 

BERNARDA

You saw him with your own eyes?

 

MARTIRIO

I didnít want to look out. Donít you talk now at the window facing the alleyway?

 

ANGUSTIAS

I talk to him from my bedroom window.

 

[Adela appears at the door]

 

MARTIRIO

ThenÖ

 

BERNARDA

What is going on here?

 

PONCIA
Be careful what you might discover! But, itís clear that Pepe was at one of your windows at four in the morning.

 

BERNARDA

Are you sure about this?

 

PONCIA
You canít be sure of anything in this life.

 

 


56.

 

ADELA

Mother, donít listen to her. She wants to destroy us all.

 

BERNARDA

Then I will find out for myself! If the villagers want to make false accusations they will find I am hard as rock. We will not talk about this any longer. Sometimes people sling mud at others so they will lose themselves.

 

MARTIRIO

Iím not a liar.

 

PONCIA

There must be some truth in it.

 

BERNARDA

There is nothing. I was born with my eyes open. Now I shall keep them open until the day I die.

 

ANGUSTIAS

I have a right to know what is going on.

 

BERNARDA

You have no right but to obey. Nobody tells me what to do. (To Poncia) And you, stick to the affairs of your own house. No one will take a step here without my knowledge!

 

SERVANT

(Entering) Thereís a big crowd at the top of the street and all the neighbors are at their doors!

 

BERNARDA

(To Poncia) Run; see whatís going on! (The women run as if to go out) Where are you going? I always knew you were women who couldnít wait to display themselves at the windows, and break your mourning. All of you to the courtyard!

 

[They leave. Bernarda leaves. Distant noise is heard. Martirio and Adela enter. They stand listening, not daring to take another step towards the door that leads out.]

 

MARTIRIO

You should be grateful I didnít speak up.

 

 


57.

 

ADELA

I could have spoken up too.

 

MARTIRIO

And what would you have said? To want to do something is not the same as doing it!

 

ADELA

The one who does is the one who can, the one who gets there first. You wanted to, but you couldnít.

 

MARTIRIO

You canít go on much longer.

 

ADELA

Iíll have him all to myself!

 

MARTIRIO

And Iíll tear you away from his embrace!

 

ADELA

(Pleading) Martirio, leave me alone!

 

MARTIRIO

Never!

 

ADELA

He wants me to live with him.

 

MARTIRIO

I saw how he embraced you!

 

ADELA

I didnít want him to. Itís as if I was dragged along a tightrope.

 

MARTIRIO

Iíll see you dead first!

 

[Magdalena and Angustias appear. The noise outside grows louder.]

 

PONCIA

(Entering with Bernarda) Bernarda!

 

 


58.

 

BERNARDA

What is it?

 

PONCIA

Libradaís daughter, the unmarried one, has had a child, and no one knows who the father is.

 

ADELA

A child?

 

PONCIA
And to hide her shame she killed it and buried it underneath some stones; but some dogs, with more heart than many a human being, rooted it out and left it on her doorstep, as if guided by Godís hand. Now they want to kill her. They are dragging her down the street, and the men are running along the paths and from the olive-groves, shouting so loudly they make the fields tremble.

 

BERNARDA

Thatís right. Let them come with olive switches and pick-handles. Let them all come and kill her.

 

ADELA
No, no! Not kill her!

 

MARTIRIO

Yes. And letís go out there too.

 

BERNARDA

And let the woman who tramples on her virtue pay the price.

 

[Outside a womanís cry is heard, and great uproar]

 

ADELA

Let her go! Donít go out!

 

MARTIRIO

(Looking at Adela) Let her pay the price!

 

BERNARDA

(In the archway) Finish her off before the police arrive! Place a burning coal where her sin lies!

 

ADELA

(Clutching her stomach) No! No!

 

BERNARDA

Kill her! Kill her!

 

[Curtain]

 

60.

 

ACT THREE

 

Four white walls, lightly bathed in blue, in the inner courtyard of Bernardaís house. It is night. The setting should be absolutely simple. The doorways, illuminated by the light from inside the house, cast a soft glow on the scene. At center, a table with an oil lamp at which Bernarda and her daughters are eating. Poncia is serving them. Prudencia is seated to one side. As the curtain rises, there is complete silence, broken only by the sound of plates and cutlery.

 

PRUDENCIA

I should go. I have overstayed my welcome. (She rises)

 

BERNARDA

Wait now, dear woman. We never see each other.

 

PRUDENCIA

Has the last call for the rosary sounded?

 

PONCIA
Not yet.

 

[Prudencia sits]

 

BERNARDA

And how is your husband doing?

 

PRUDENCIA

Same as always.

 

BERNARDA

We never see him either.

 

PRUDENCIA

You know what heís like. Since he quarreled with his brothers over the inheritance he hasnít gone out the front door. He uses a ladder to climb the back wall.

 

BERNARDA

Thatís a real man for you! And your daughterÖ?

 

PRUDENCIA

He hasnít forgiven her.

 

BERNARDA

Heís right.

 

PRUDENCIA

I donít know what to say. It makes me suffer so.

 

BERNARDA

A disobedient daughter stops being your daughter and instead becomes an enemy.

 

PRUDENCIA

I let the water flow. Thereís no other comfort left to me but to seek refuge in the church, but since Iím going blind Iíll have to stop going, so that the children wonít mock me.

(A heavy blow is heard against the walls) What was that?

 

BERNARDA

The stallion. Heís locked in the stable and kicks the wall. (Calling out) Hobble him and let him out into the yard. (Quietly) He must be hot.

 

PRUDENCIA

Are you going to let him loose on the new mares?

 

BERNARDA

At dawn.

 

PRUDENCIA

Youíve managed to increase your stable.

 

BERNARDA

With plenty of money and grief to go with it.

 

PONCIA

(Cutting in) Sheís got the best stable in the whole region!

 

 


61.

 

Itís a shame the prices are so low.

 

BERNARDA

Would you like some cheese and honey?

 

PRUDENCIA

I donít feel like eating.

 

[The blow is heard again]

 

PONCIA
Dear God!

 

PRUDENCIA

It went straight to my heart!

 

BERNARDA

(Rising angrily) Must I say everything twice? Let him out to roll in the straw! (Pause. As though speaking to the farmhands.) Lock the mares in the stable, but let him loose, before he brings the whole house down. [She goes to the table and sits down again] What a life this is!

 

PRUDENCIA

Working like a man.

 

BERNARDA

Just so.

 

[Adela gets up from the table]

 

Where are you going?

 

ADELA

For a drink of water.

 

BERNARDA

(Calling out) Bring a jug of cool water. (To Adela) You may sit down.

 

[Adela sits]

 

PRUDENCIA

And Angustias, when does she marry?

 

 


62.

 

BERNARDA

They will be coming for her hand in three days.

 

PRUDENCIA

You must be happy.

 

ANGUSTIAS

Of course!

 

AMELIA

(To Magdalena) Now youíve gone and spilled the salt!

 

MAGDALENA
Your luck canít get much worse than it is already.

 

AMELIA

It always brings bad luck.

 

BERNARDA

Enough of that!

 

PRUDENCIA

(To Angustias) Has he given you the ring yet?

 

ANGUSTIAS

(Displays it) See for yourself.

 

PRUDENCIA

Itís beautiful. Three pearls. In my day pearls meant tears.

 

ANGUSTIAS

Things have changed.

 

ADELA

I donít think so. Things always mean the same. An engagement ring should have diamonds.

 

PRUDENCIA

Itís more appropriate.

 

BERNARDA

With or without pearls, itís all in what you make of things.

 

MARTIRIO

Or what God makes of them.

 

 


63.

 

PRUDENCIA

They tell me your furniture is beautiful too.

 

BERNARDA

Iíve spent a fortune.

 

PONCIA

(Cutting in) The best piece is the wardrobe with the mirror.

 

PRUDENCIA

Iíve never seen one of those.

 

BERNARDA

All we had was a chest.

 

PRUDENCIA

Whatís important is that everything works out for the best.

 

ADELA

One never knows.

 

BERNARDA

Thereís no reason why it shouldnít.

 

[Bells are heard in the distance]

 

PRUDENCIA

The last call. (To Angustias) Iíll come again so you can show me your trousseau.

 

ANGUSTIAS

Whenever you wish.

 

PRUDENCIA

May God be with us all tonight.

 

BERNARDA

Goodbye, Prudencia.

 

THE FIVE DAUGHTERS

(In unison) God be with you.

 

[Pause. Prudencia exits.]

 

BERNARDA

We have eaten.

 

 


64.

[They rise]

 

ADELA

Iím going as far as the main door to stretch my legs and get some fresh air.

 

[Magdalena sits in a low chair against the wall]

                                                                                                       

AMELIA

Iíll go with you.

 

MARTIRIO

Me too.

 

ADELA

(With suppressed hatred) Iím not going to get lost.

 

AMELIA

The night desires company.

 

[They leave. Bernarda sits. Angustias clears the table.]

 

BERNARDA

I have already told you I want you to speak to your sister Martirio. What happened with the picture was a joke and should be forgotten.

 

ANGUSTIAS

You know she doesnít love me.

 

BERNARDA

Everyone knows their own heart. I never pry into anyone elseís, but I want appearances kept up, and harmony inside the family. Do you understand?

 

 


65.

 

ANGUSTIAS

Yes.

 

BERNARDA

Thatís settled, then.

 

MAGDALENA

(Half asleep) Anyway, youíll be leaving before you know it! (She sleeps)

 

ANGUSTIAS

Not soon enough.

 

BERNARDA

What time did you stop talking last night?

 

ANGUSTIAS

Twelve-thirty.

 

BERNARDA

What does Pepe have to say?

 

ANGUSTIAS

He seems very distracted. He talks to me as if heís thinking about something else. When I ask him whatís on his mind, he just says, ďMen have their own worries.Ē

 

BERNARDA

You shouldnít ask him. And when you get married, even less so. Speak if he speaks and look at him when he looks at you. Youíll be better off that way.

 

ANGUSTIAS

Mother, I think he hides things from me.

 

BERNARDA

Donít try to find out what they are, donít ask him anything, and by all means, donít let him ever see you cry.

 

ANGUSTIAS

I should be happy and Iím not.

 

BERNARDA

Itís all the same.

 

ANGUSTIAS

Sometimes I look at Pepe through the bars of the window and he becomes blurred, as if he were obscured by a cloud of dust stirred up by the flocks of sheep.

 

BERNARDA

Youíre not well, thatís all.

 

ANGUSTIAS

I hope thatís all it is.

 

 


66.

 

BERNARDA

Is he stopping by tonight?

 

ANGUSTIAS

No. He went to the capital with his mother.

 

BERNARDA

Then weíll go to bed early. Magdalena!

 

ANGUSTIAS

Sheís fallen asleep.

 

[Adela, Martirio, Amelia enter]

 

AMELIA

What a dark night!

 

ADELA

You canít see two feet in front of you.

 

MARTIRIO

A good night for thieves, or for someone who needs to hide.

 

ADELA

The stallion was in the middle of the yard. So white! And twice its size. He filled the darkness.

 

AMELIA

Sheís right. It was frightening. He looked like a ghost!

 

ADELA

The sky has stars like fists.

 

MARTIRIO

She was staring at them so much she almost strained her neck.

 

ADELA

Donít you like the stars?

 

MARTIRIO

I couldnít care less what happens above the rooftops. I have enough with what goes on inside these rooms.

 

ADELA

Thatís why youíre the way you are.

 

 


67.

 

BERNARDA

She has her ways, and you have yours.

 

ANGUSTIAS

Good night.

 

ADELA

Youíre going to bed already?

 

ANGUSTIAS

Yes, Pepeís not coming tonight. (Exits)

 

ADELA

Mother, why is when thereís a shooting star of a flash of lightning in the sky people say:

Blessed Santa Barbara

You story is writ in the sky

With paper and holy water?

 

BERNARDA

Our ancestors knew many things that we have now forgotten.

 

AMELIA

I close my eyes so as not to see them.

 

ADELA

I donít. I like to see tings that have been dormant for years on end suddenly flash with fire.

 

MARTIRIO

These things have nothing to do with us.

 

BERNARDA
Best not to think about them.

 

ADELA

What a beautiful night! I would like to stay up late to enjoy the breeze from the fields.

 

BERNARDA

But itís time for bed. Magdalena!

 

AMELIA

Sheís sleeping so well.

 

 


68.

 

BERNARDA

Magdalena!

 

MAGDALENA

(Annoyed) Leave me in peace!

 

BERNARDA

Time for bed!

 

MAGDALENA

(Getting up in a bad mood) You canít let a person just be! (She goes out grumbling)

 

AMELIA

Good night. (She exits)

 

BERNARDA

You two, go on now.

 

MARTIRIO

Why isnít Angustiasí fiancť coming by tonight?

 

BERNARDA

Heís away on a trip.

 

MARTIRIO

(Looking at Adela) Ah!

 

ADELA

See you in the morning. (Exits)

 

[Martirio takes a drink of water and goes out slowly looking towards the door of the stable-yard. Poncia enters]

 

PONCIA
Youíre still here?

 

BERNARDA

Delighting in the silence. I still have not been able to discern what is the ďseriousĒ thing that is going on here.

 

PONCIA
Bernarda, letís leave that now.

 

BERNARDA

In this house everything is as it should be. My vigilance can cope with everything.

 

 


69.

 

PONCIA
Nothing going on that you could see, thatís true. Your daughters live as if they were kept in a cupboard. But neither you nor anybody can see what is inside someoneís heart.

 

BERNARDA

My daughters breathe easily.

 

PONCIA
Thatís important to you because youíre their mother. I have enough to do looking after this house.

 

BERNARDA

Now youíre silent.

 

PONCIA
I am in my place, and in peace.

 

BERNARDA

Itís that you have nothing to say, thatís what. If in this house there were weeds, youíd be the first one to bring the neighborhoodís sheep in here to graze.

 

PONCIA

I cover up more than you think.

 

BERNARDA
Does your son still see Pepe at four in the morning? Are people still reciting a litany of lies about this house?

 

PONCIA
Nobody says anything.

 

BERNARDA

Because they canít. Because there isnít anything they can sink their teeth into. My vigilance has paid off.

 

PONCIA
Bernarda, I donít want to say anything because Iím afraid of what you are up to. All I can say is: donít be so sure of things.

 

BERNARDA

I am very sure!

 

 


70.

 

PONCIA
Maybe a bolt of lightning will strike! Maybe, all of a sudden, a blood clot will stop your heart.

 

BERNARDA

Nothing will happen here. I am quite aware of what youíre getting at.

 

PONCIA
Better for you, then.

 

BERNARDA

Absolutely!

 

SERVANT

(Entering) I finished washing the dishes. Do you need anything else, Bernarda?

 

BERNARDA

(Rising) No. Iím going to bed.

 

PONCIA
What time do you want me to call you?

 

BERNARDA

 Donít bother. Iím going to sleep well tonight. (Exits)

 

PONCIA
When you canít fight the sea, the easiest thing to do is to turn your back against it.

 

SERVANT

She is so full of pride that she blinds herself to things.

 

PONCIA
I canít do anything. I tried to stop things before they went any further, but they frighten me too much. You hear this silence? Well, thereís a storm in each one of these rooms. The day they break, theyíll sweep us all away. I have said what Iíve had to say.

 

SERVANT

Bernarda thinks no one can be a match for her, but she doesnít know the power a man can have in a house full of single women.

 

PONCIA
Itís not all Pepe el Romanoís fault.

 


71.

 

Itís true that last year he was after Adela, and she was crazy about him, but she should have stayed in her place. She shouldnít have provoked him. A man is a man.

 

SERVANT

Some people think he talked too many nights with Adela.

 

PONCIA
Theyíre right.
(Whispering) And other things, too.

 

SERVANT

I donít know whatís going to happen here.

 

PONCIA

I would like to cross the ocean and leave this house of war behind me.

 

SERVANT

Bernarda is rushing the wedding. Itís possible nothing will happen.

 

PONCIA
Things have gone too far. Adelaís mind is made up. Sheís willing to do anything. And the others keep ceaseless watch all the time.

 

SERVANT

Martirio too?

 

PONCIA
Sheís the worst. Sheís a well of poison. She knows that Pepe is not for her and sheíd sink the world if she could so that nobody else can have him either.

 

SERVANT

They are wicked girls!

 

PONCIA

They are men without women, thatís all. When it comes to these things, even blood ties are forgotten. Shh! (Listens)

 

SERVANT

What is it?

 

PONCIA
(rises) The dogs are barking.

 

 


72.

SERVANT

Someone must have passed across the front door.

 

[Adela enters in white petticoat and bodice]

 

PONCIA
Werenít you in bed?

 

ADELA
Iím going to take a drink of water. (She drinks a glass from the table)

 

PONCIA
I thought you were sleeping.

 

ADELA

Thirst woke me. Arenít you two going to bed?

 

SERVANT

In a bit.

 

[Adela goes out]

 

PONCIA
Letís go.

 

SERVANT

Weíve earned our rest. Bernarda has me working all day.

 

PONCIA
Take the lamp.

 

SERVANT

The dogs are barking like mad.

 

PONCIA
They wonít let us sleep.

 

[They leave. The stage is almost in darkness. Maria Josefa appears with a lamb in her arms.]

 

MARIA JOSEFA

Little lamb, my little baby

Let us go down to the seashore.

The little ant will be at his door.

I will give you my milk, and bit of bread.

 

 


73.

Bernarda, face of a leopard.

Magdalena, face of a hyena.

Little lamb.

Baa, baa.

Weíll go see the flowers that rest at Bethlehemís gates. (Laughs)

 

Neither you nor I desire sleep

The door will open all by itself

And we will go down to the beach

And hide inside a coral reef.

 

Bernarda, face of a leopard.

Magdalena, face of a hyena.

Little lamb.

Baa, baa.

Let us go see the flowers that rest at Bethlehemís gates!

 

[She goes out, singing. Adela enters. She looks around warily and disappears through the door to the stable-yard. Martirio comes in through another door and stands at center in a state of anguished watchfulness. She is also in her petticoat. She has covered herself with a waist-length black shawl. Maria Josefa enters.]

 

MARTIRIO

Where do you think youíre going?

 

MARIA JOSEFA

Are you going to open the door for me? Who are you?

 

MARTIRIO

What are you doing here?

 

MARIA JOSEFA

I escaped. And who are you?

 

MARTIRIO

Go to bed.

 

MARIA JOSEFA

You are Martirio. I see that now. Martirio: face of a martyr. And when are you going to have a baby? Iíve had this one.

 

 


74.

 

MARTIRIO

Where did you get that lamb?

 

MARIA JOSEFA

I know itís a lamb. But why canít a lamb be a little baby? Itís better to have a lamb than nothing. Bernarda, face of a leopard. Magdalena, face of a hyena.

 

MARTIRIO

Donít shout.

 

MARIA JOSEFA

Itís true. Everything is too dark. You think I canít have children because my hair is white, but I can. I can have children, children and more children. This child will have white hair, and there will be another child and another and they will all have snow-white hair, and we will be like the waves of the sea, and we will all have white hair and we will be foam. Why isnít there foam here? Thereís nothing here but mourning shawls.

 

MARTIRIO

Be quiet now, quiet.

 

MARIA JOSEFA

When my neighbor had a child I would bring him chocolate and afterwards she would always bring me some, and thatís how it was forever and ever and ever. You will have white hair, but the neighbors wonít visit you. I must go, but I am afraid the dogs will bite me. Will you accompany me until we are past the fields? I donít want fields. I want houses, open houses, and neighbors sleeping in their beds with their little children, and the men outside sitting in their chairs. Pepe el Romano is a giant. All of you want him. But he will devour you, because you are grains of wheat. No, not grains of wheat, but frogs without tongues!

 

MARTIRIO

(Vigorously) Letís go. To bed! (She pushes her)

 

MARIA JOSEFA

Yes, but later you will let me out, wonít you?

 

MARTIRIO

Of course.

 

 


75.

 

MARIA JOSEFA

(Weeping) Little lamb, my little baby

Letís go down to the seashore.

The ant will be at his door.

I will give you my milk, and bit of bread.

 

[She leaves. Martirio closes the door through which Maria Josefa has just gone out, and moves toward the door to the stable-yard. She hesitates, then advances a few more steps forward.]

 

MARTIRIO

(Whispering) Adela. (Pause. Advances to the door. Loudly) Adela!

 

[Adela appears. Her hair is tousled]

 

ADELA

What do you need me for?

 

MARTIRIO

Leave that man!

 

ADELA

And who are you to tell me anything?

 

MARTIRIO

Thatís not the place for a decent woman.

 

ADELA

Wouldnít you like to be there yourself!

 

MARTIRIO

(Loudly) The time has come for me to speak. This cannot go on.

 

ADELA

This is just the beginning. Iíve had the strength to take what I want. The spirit and valor you donít have. I have seen death under this roof and I have gone out to take hold of what is mine, what belongs to me.

 

MARTIRIO

That soul-less man came for another woman. You got in his way.

 

ADELA

He came for the money, but he always kept his eyes on me.

 

 


76.

 

MARTIRIO

I wonít let you take him. He must marry Angustias.

 

ADELA

You know better than I that he doesnít love her.

 

MARTIRIO

I know.

 

ADELA

You know, because youíve seen it. He loves me.

 

MARTIRIO

(Desperately) Yes.

 

ADELA

(Coming closer) He loves me, he loves me.

 

MARTIRIO

Stick the knife in if thatís what you want, but donít say those words again.

 

ADELA

Thatís why you donít want me to see him. You donít care if he embraces someone he doesnít love. Neither do I. He could live with Angustias for a hundred years. But the fact that he embraces me makes you crazy, because you love him too. You love him!

 

MARTIRIO

(Powerfully) Yes! I say it without shame. Yes! Let my heart burst open like a bitter pomegranate. I love him!

 

ADELA

(Impulsively, goes to embrace her) Martirio, Martirio, itís not my fault.

 

MARTIRIO

Donít embrace me! Donít try to soften the hatred in my eyes. We are no longer bound by blood. Even though I want to see you as my sister, I can only see you now as just another woman. (She pushes her away)

 

ADELA

Thereís no solution here. Whoever must drown, must drown. Pepe el Romano is mine. He will take me to the riverís edge.

 

 


77.

 

MARTIRIO

I wonít let him!

 

ADELA

I cannot stand the horror of living in this house anymore, not after having tasted his sweet lips. I will be whatever he wants me to be. The whole village can turn against me; they can burn me with their fingers of fire. Those that call themselves honorable citizens can hound me. I will stand in front of them all with a crown of thorns on my head, the crown that women who are loved by a married man wear.

 

MARTIRIO

Be quiet!

 

ADELA

Yes, yes. (Quietly) Letís go to sleep, let him marry Angustias. I donít care anymore. But I will go live in a little house all by myself, where he can see me whenever he wants, when the need arises.

 

MARTIRIO

That will not happen, not as long as Iíve got a drop of blood left in my veins.

 

ADELA

Youíre weak. I can bring a wild stallion to its knees with the strength of my little finger.

 

MARTIRIO

Donít raise your voice like that. It upsets me. My heart is full of such an evil force that without my trying is drowning me.

 

ADELA

They teach us to love our sisters. God must have left me alone in the heart of darkness, because I see you, as I never have before.

 

[A whistle is heard. Adela runs to the door, but Martirio gets in her way]

 

MARTIRIO

Where are you going?

 

ADELA

Get away from the door!

 

 


78.

 

MARTIRIO

Get past me if you can!

 

ADELA

Get away! (She struggles)

 

MARTIRIO

(Loudly) Mother, mother!

 

ADELA

Let me pass!

 

[Bernarda enters. She wears petticoats and a black shawl.]

 

BERNARDA

Calm down. Calm down. How unfortunate am I not to have a thunderbolt between my fingers.

 

MARTIRIO

(Pointing at Adela) She was with him! Look at her petticoat full of straw!

 

BERNARDA

A straw bed is a whoreís bed. (She approaches Adela with rage)

 

ADELA

(Confronting her) There will be an end to the wardenís voice here! (Adela seizes her motherís walking stick and breaks it in half) This is what I do with the tyrantís rod. Do not take another step. No one but Pepe governs me!

 

[Magdalena appears]

 

MAGDALENA

Adela!

 

[Poncia and Angustias appear]

 

ADELA

I am his woman. (To Angustias) You know this now. Go out there and tell him. He will govern this whole house. Heís out there, panting like a lion.

 

ANGUSTIAS

Dear God!

 

 


79.

 

BERNARDA
The gun! Where is the gun?
(She runs out)

 

[Amelia enters upstage, looking on in terror, her head against the wall. Martirio goes out]

 

ADELA

No one will stop me! (She starts to go out)

 

ANGUSTIAS

(Restraining her) You will not leave here with your body triumphant. You thief! You shame our house!

 

MAGDALENA

Let her go where we will not ever see her again!

 

[A gunshot is heard]

 

BERNARDA

(Entering) Dare to look for him now.

 

MARTIRIO

(Entering) Pepe el Romano has seen his end.

 

ADELA

Pepe! Dear God! Pepe! (She rushes out)

 

PONCIA
Did you kill him?

 

MARTIRIO

No. He rode off on his horse.

 

BERNARDA
It was my fault. Women donít have good aim.

 

MAGDALENA

Why did you say that then?

 

MARTIRIO

For her sake! Iíd have poured a river of blood on her head.

 

PONCIA
Cursed woman.

 

 


80.

 

MAGDALENA

She-devil.

 

BERNARDA
Itís better this way.
(A thud is heard) Adela! Adela!

 

PONCIA
(at the door) Open the door!

 

BERNARDA

Open it. Donít think the walls can protect you from shame.

 

SERVANT

(Entering) The neighbors are getting up.

 

BERNARDA

(In a low, coarse voice) Open the door, or I will break it down!

 

[Pause. Complete silence.]

 

Adela! (She moves away from the door) Bring a hammer!

 

[Poncia pushes the door and enters. As she does so, she screams and reappears]

 

BERNARDA
What is it?

 

PONCIA
(putting her hands to her throat) May we never see such an end!

 

[The sisters draw back. The Servant crosses herself. Bernarda screams and steps forward.]

 

PONCIA
Donít go in!

 

BERNARDA
No. I will not! Pepe: you may run free through the dark tress, but on another day you will fall. Cut her down! My daughter has died a virgin! Take her to her room and dress her like a pure maiden. No one will say anything! She has died a virgin! Tell them the bells should ring twice at dawn.

 

 


81.

 

MARTIRIO

She was a thousand times lucky to have had him.

 

BERNARDA

And I donít want any tears. You have to look death in the face.  Silence! (To another daughter) Be quiet, I said! (To another daughter) You can shed tears when youíre alone. We will drown in a sea of mourning! She, the youngest daughter of Bernarda Alba, has died a virgin. Do you hear me? Silence. Silence, I said. Silence!

 

[Curtain]

 

END OF PLAY