Bucurita, Daughter Of The Mountains

excerpt  MARGICA, PAPARUDA: You could die laughing, that's screamingly funny. Hah, hah, hah! MARGICA: Well, I never! Hah, hah, hah!PAPARUDA: Goodness sakes... hah, hah, hah!THE EMPEROR: But what's wrong? Why are you both speaking at the same time… what did you see? (Bucurita enters, wrapped up in a fishing net and riding a billy goat) Bucurita! You've arrived! (He laughs)THE RANGER (kissing her on the top of her head): May you have the clear sky in your eyes and the warm sun in your soul. You have proven yourself quick-witted and worthy.BUCURITA: Emperor Mugur, here I am! I have come just as you ordered: neither dressed, nor undressed, as the fishing net covers my body but it doesn't clothe it. Neither riding, nor on foot, because I'm sitting on this frolicsome billy goat that doesn't walk either on the road, or on the path, but always through ditches, where he sees fresh green grass. THE EMPEROR: My joy has arrived. Let the trumpets blow, and start preparing the wedding. I have chosen my empress. Welcome, my empress.ALL: Long live the emperor! Long live the empress!THE EMPEROR: You are all invited to our wedding, tomorrow! (He exits together with the rest of the people)MARGICA: That's too much! The shepherd's daughter will become an empress! What do you think about that, princess?PAPARUDA: That is indeed ridiculous. But you never know what may happen before tomorrow. Let's stay for the wedding. What are you planning to wear tomorrow?MARGICA: Oh, I am so happy! The silk from the Oriental merchant will fit just fine.PAPARUDA (aside): You will still look like a chubby barrel. MARGICA: Did you say anything?PAPARUDA: No, nothing. I was just saying… how I can't wait to admire your new silk garments. As a matter of fact I'll be wearing ruby-colored velvet brought especially for me by my father, emperor Dopey, from faraway lands. MARGICA (aside): Anyway, this doltish pole will look just as gawky. PAPARUDA: Were you saying anything?MARGICA: I was saying that we should hurry and finish getting prepared. (Both of them exit. The Ranger enters and sits on the edge of the fountain. The emperor enters)THE EMPEROR: Don't you ever separate me from her again. We have just been re-united. I don't think I could endure another separation. THE RANGER (guileful and playful): I understand your happiness, sire. But I think we had better settle something in advance. We have found out that she is quick-witted, but we don't know whether she is loving. What if she loves the kingdom's riches and not the emperor himself…?THE EMPEROR: Why do you torment me, kind ranger?BUCURITA (coming from the palace, wearing a rosy dress): Your highness, where did you go without me? Neither the sunshine not the moonlight can diminish the love I feel for you.THE EMPEROR (aside): Aren't her words deceptive? (Aloud) Here I am, milady. Were you looking for me?BUCURITA: I was looking for you like one looks for healing herbs. THE RANGER (aside): No other empress shall be quite like her! (Aloud) Lady Bucurita, I have some sad news for you. The emperor decided that he cannot marry a shepherd's daughter. BUCURITA (ready to burst into tears, to the emperor): Your highness, is this the reward you deem me worthy of? Why do you humiliate me like this? Honesty is the most precious fortune for us common girls. Now, how am I supposed to go back to my father's house?THE RANGER: The emperor's reward is that you will be able to choose from the court, and take back to your home, what you treasure and love the most. THE EMPEROR: Jewels, dresses, buckles, whatever your heart desires. (Hearing this, Bucurita stops crying, goes to the fountain to wash her face, then picks up a weed from the grass and puts it in her bosom) You were right, wise man. Did you see how she stopped crying and put on a new face when she heard about the royal reward? Ahh, heart, how you can deceive a man!THE RANGER (pouring oil on the flame): Lest you should trust women ever again, emperor Mugur. We shall see.BUCURITA (walking merrily): Your highness, I shall obey your royal decision. I tried my luck, but I aimed too high and failed. I shall return to my dear old father, the Brave Man of the Mountains. Thank you for allowing me to take back with me what I treasure most, from your royal court. Please, your highness, give me a letter with your imperial ruling.THE EMPEROR (he claps his hands, the secretary comes, signs and seals the letter): There's the letter you wanted, sealed with my royal stamp.BUCURITA: Thank you, your highness. But before I leave, allow me to drink with you a cup of your finest, ruby vine, and toast your health. THE EMPEROR: At once! Kind ranger, give orders and bring us some of my ruby wine, to drink a farewell cup. (He is more and more saddened, and Bucurita happier. The Ranger brings the wine cups)THE RANGER: This is the parting hour. Allow me to depart. May this cup of wine be the cup of reunion. (He exits)THE EMPEROR (accompanying him): You may leave, oh wise man. Nothing in this world would be able to fill Bucurita's shoes. THE RANGER: Nobody will need to! Good night, your highness!THE EMPEROR: I shall take the counsel of my pillow. Good night.BUCURITA (dousing the weed into the emperor's wine cup): Balmy herb, please help me. There is nothing in the world I treasure more than the emperor himself. (Aloud) Emperor, let us drink for the joy of our reunion.THE EMPEROR: This is a toast for our separation. (He drinks) Eh, what is going on? I don't know what's wrong with me. My eyes are closing. And I am so very sleepy. (He gets dizzy)BUCURITA: A toast for our reunion, our separation, and for our reunion again, as you wish your highness, Mugur. THE EMPEROR: …What are you talking about… forgive me, I'm so sleepy. (He falls asleep down on the ground, next to the fountain)BUCURITA: Thank you, balmy weed. Sleep tight, your highness. When you wake up tomorrow, you'll be extremely surprised. (She shouts) Boyar Ashtree! Boyar Oaktree! Come here. (She wraps the emperor in the fishing net. Ashtree and Oaktree enter and are startled)ASHTREE: What happened, milady?OAKTREE: What's wrong with our emperor?BUCURITA: Relax, your emperor has drunk a glass of wine and now he's sleeping. Now look at this royal letter. (Both of them read) Do you recognize the imperial marks and his seal?BOTH OF THEM: Of course, milady.ASHTREE: May I be beheaded if I understand a thing.OAKTREE: Me neither.BUCURITA: You'll understand at once. It says here that I can take back to my home whatever I treasure most from the emperor's court, and nothing and no one can prevent me from doing so. OAKTREE: We've already seen that. That's what is says.ASHTREE: That's it, that's right! We've just read it. BUCURITA: This is what I treasure most! (She points to the emperor) I'm taking him home with me. Help me get him into my wagon.ASHTREE: What should we do?OAKTREE: I don't know what to do!BUCURITA: This is the emperor's order and don't you even dare grumble.OAKTREE: Let us go then. An order is an order. (They exit. It is getting dark) SCENE V (The entire imperial court is in the garden. Great excitement)PAPARUDA: Did you hear what happened?! I've always said that this shepherd girl is not quite sane. FIBBER: Why, I've never heard of anything quite like this! Kidnapping the emperor!BOOTLICKER: I'm sure he'll come back. And these scoundrels will go straight to prison! (He points to Oaktree and Ashtree)ASHTREE: It was a royal order, written in that letter, sealed with the emperor's stamp.MARGICA: An insane order! This shepherd girl is a witch! Oh, if only I could see her in prison too! THE RANGER (enters, peacefully): What's this racket about? Has anything happened? What made you all wake up so early in the morning? (All gather round him to tell him what happened. Racket) I cannot understand anything like this anymore. Boyar Oaktree, what are you so excited about?OAKTREE (uneasy): The emperor… was kidnapped by Bucurita. She had a royal letter with a seal.THE RANGER: What do you mean kidnapped? Bucurita took back to her home what she treasured and loved more from the emperor's court. And she did well. You should be proud that there is no other empress in this world as quick-witted and smart, as kind and loving as Bucurita. This was her last trial! (Everyone is astonished) Start the wedding preparations! Today emperor Mugur is getting married. (The bride and the groom enter, dressed in brilliant garments). There's our empress!ALL (joy, cheers): Long live the bride and groom! Long live our empress!ASHTREE, OAKTREE (kneeling): Forgive us your highness. Forgive us if we did wrong!THE EMPEROR: You ask for forgiveness? You were faithful to my orders as always. You should stay by my side, because I need your loyalty. And you, wise ranger, you should also stay besides me. You shall be my first adviser. I am still young and still have a lot to learn.BOOTLICKER, FIBBER: What about us?THE EMPEROR: You received my blessing. Go with your sweethearts back to their palaces.THE RANGER: May you live a long and peaceful life. Empress, may you offer many joys to emperor Mugur for the rest of his life, and may you bloom like blossoms in spring, caressed by sunshine. I wish you happiness and long life. THE EMPEROR: Let us go, my beloved empress! BUCURITA: May our joy be everyone's joy today.  The curtain dropsJunimea, 2002 Note: Bucurita is derived from the word meaning "joy"; Mugur means "bud"; Paparuda is a ridiculously dressed person; and Margica is a "small bead."

by Cristina Anca Ciubotaru Grozdan (b. 1948)