Last Updated on May 13, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 746
When Juan de Aragon, Governor of Gaeta, received a letter from his old friend Alonso Colona of Naples, saying that his daughter had run off with a murderer, Cesar Ursino, that official was so upset and incoherent that his daughter Lisarda was sure that her own guilty secret had been discovered, for she had been going veiled to assignations with a romantic wooer. This gallant, who called himself Fabio, was really Cesar. He was deeply interested in the veiled girl whom he was meeting, much to the dismay of his servant Camacho, who remonstrated with his master and reminded him that he was to marry Flerida.
One day Cesar ran across his old friend, Don Juan, who had returned from Flanders to visit an old soldier friend of his and to pay court to Lisarda. About the same time Flerida Colona arrived in Gaeta from Naples and appealed for help to the governor’s daughter. Calling herself Laura, she explained that her sweetheart was in flight after having killed a man who had molested her, and that she was following him.
During her next meeting with Cesar, Lisarda was persuaded to unveil herself. Her maid Celia, flirting with Camacho, also revealed herself. At that moment they were discovered by the governor, who was searching for Cesar. The fugitive declared: “Things are worse than they were.” The governor sent him a prisoner to the tower, and ordered the veiled girl, whom he took for the daughter of his old friend, to be taken under guard to his own house.
Returning home before her father, Lisarda was able to make him believe on his arrival that his captive had been Flerida, the girl whom Lisarda was already sheltering in the house. Satisfied with the way matters had turned out, the governor dispatched a messenger to his friend in Naples and promised to keep the runaway girl out of mischief until she was safely married. Meanwhile, Don Juan had been accepted as Lisarda’s suitor and was being entertained in the governor’s house.
Lisarda, remorseful that Cesar had been jailed because of his passion for her, sent Celia to him with a note arranging for another meeting that night. The servant found him and Camacho comparing Flerida and his new lady. Cesar, immediately accepting the invitation, promised to bribe the jailer for a night of freedom. Bribery was not necessary, however. Don Juan, on his arrival to visit the prisoner, announced that the jailer was his old military comrade, who would let Cesar out on parole. Cesar had hoped to keep his friend from learning about the veiled woman, but was glad of Don Juan’s help when his pistol went off unexpectedly, revealing his presence in Lisarda’s room. Don Juan, who was staying in the governor’s house, arrived first on the scene, recognized Cesar, and aided him to escape.
Don Juan debated all night whether to challenge Cesar as a rival or to aid him as a friend. Unable to make up his mind, he hesitated about accepting the governor’s offer of immediate marriage to Lisarda. While he was debating with himself, the early-rising Flerida found him in the patio. Her general remarks about Cesar and their adventures together in the past convinced Don Juan that she had been the girl in Cesar’s company the night before. During their discussion Flerida learned for the first time that Cesar was in the Gaeta jail.
When her attempts to visit him aroused Lisarda’s jealousy, the governor, overhearing part of the conversation between the girls, almost uncovered the truth about Lisarda’s secret meetings. But Lisarda managed to keep her secret from her father. She also promised Flerida a full explanation of everything that had happened.
Once more Don Juan visited Cesar in jail. Camacho, by his quick wit, managed to save Lisarda’s good name, but all was nearly discovered when the governor arrived with news that he had made arrangements for Cesar’s immediate marriage to Flerida. Unable to understand the young man’s surprise at news of his sweetheart, he insisted that he had found them together the previous night.
To get the truth, Don Juan gathered everyone concerned at the governor’s house. There Lisarda, to escape scandal, was compelled to see Flerida paired off with Cesar while she had to be satisfied with Don Juan. To complete the round of weddings, Celia and Camacho were paired off with each other.
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