[Scene II. Simonetta's bedchamber.]

She wipes at her eyes with a silken sleeve.

Simonetta (quietly): O, father, must you be so cruel?

Her maid, Lina, runs up to her.

Lina (concerned): Milady, are you well?

Simonetta: My father hath truly lost his mind. He cares not what he puts me through.

Lina (exasperated): sigh what hath he attempted?

Simonetta: He orders that I marry soon, but I am not even of age!

Lina (quietly): Neither was your mother, milady.

She guides the girl to a screen and leads her behind it. Enna enters, looking grave.

Enna: Milady, your sister wishes to speak with you.

Simonetta emerges, dressed in a nightgown.

Simonetta (curtly): I am in no mood to speak with her; can she save it until morning?

Giovanni (off-stage): I am afraid not.

Giovanni enters, dressed the same as her sister.

Simonetta: sigh Alright, Gio, what news dost thou bring?

Giovanni: Well, Simon, it hath do with that toad, lord Veleno.

Simonetta: Hast thou been courted again?

Giovanni: Yes, or that is what he believes he is doing.

Simonetta: I the same problem, for I cannot be rid of these pestering men!

Giovanni: And yet father does nothing to stop them? Is he so eager to see us wed?

Simonetta: He must, though we are not even of age!

Her sister looks chasten.

Giovanni: Thou mayest not be, but remember, I turn sixteen by week's end, and then I shall be at his mercy.

Simonetta: Forgive me, sister, I had forgotten.

She begins to look thoughtful.

Simonetta (to herself): There must be a way to escape these laws, but what? How canst we avoid what the Gods say we are fated for? There must be a way, for I refuse to be sold as a slave!

The others gaze at her oddly, as she had shouted these last words.

Giovanni: What art thou thinking, Simon?

Simonetta (blushing): I was wondering if there is a way around the law, for I refuse to give my life to one who would just as readily take it.

The two maids, who have been whispering together, gasp in unison.

Giovanni: Enna, Lina, what are you hiding?

Enna bows.

Enna (meekly): We know, milady, of only one way to escape the marriage laws, but it is risky.

Simonetta: Speak, then. Tell us what we want to know.

Enna straightens.

Enna: There is but one way.

Lina: Indeed, but many have tried, and all have been caught.

Giovanni: You try my patience, old women. Pray, tell us, and stop speaking in riddles!

The two maids bow together.

Lina: As you wish, milady.

Enna: It must be completed before the marriage night; else it will be of no use.

Simonetta: What must we do?

Enna is about to speak, but a loud knock cuts off her voice.

Veleno (off-stage): Giovanni, my lady? Where art thou?

Giovanni: Oh no, tis Lord Veleno!

She slips in a crevice between column and wall, her maids and sister do the same.

Veleno enters, looking lost.

Veleno: I must be ill, for I could have sworn I heard her here.

He turns and vanishes, still calling for Giovanni. In moments the women reemerge.

Giovanni: I could never stand being wed to him, noble though he may be.

Simonetta: Indeed, all lords of this land crave nothing but wealth, and we are mere possessions to them.

She then recalls what was being discussed before, and turns to the maids.

Simonetta: Now, what were you saying?

Enna: If you wish to escape what fate has given you, then you must destroy those who seek to have you.

Giovanni looks frightened.

Giovanni (shaking): Th-Thou meanst that we must...kill them?

Lina: It is the only way; else they will never cease to pine for you.

A moment of silence, then,

Giovanni: Then let it be done, for I will not live as a bride.

Simonetta: Nor will I. We shall do what you bid.

Lina: It is so, but we must have time.

Giovanni: Take what you need, but remember that I am to be wed in one month's time.

Simonetta: Yes, and I in three, but I shall do what must be done to live free.

The maids again bow as one.

Lina: We will return in three days' time, but until then, you must endure.

Simonetta: We will be able, so long as you both keep to your word.

Lina: You will not have to worry, milady.

Enna: Indeed, we shall take care of all.

They leave. Giovanni and Simonetta retire to their beds for the night.