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Title: David - A Tragedy
Author: Rice, Cale Young
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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DAVID;

A Tragedy

by

CALE YOUNG RICE


      *      *      *      *      *      *

BY THE SAME AUTHOR

_Charles Di Tocca_

      *      *      *      *      *      *


DAVID;

A Tragedy

by

CALE YOUNG RICE



[Illustration]

New York
McClure, Phillips & Co.
MCMIV

Two hundred and fifty copies of this book have been
printed at the McClure Press, of which
this is No. __________

Copyright, 1904, by
McClure, Phillips & Co.

Published May, 1904. N.



                            AFFECTIONATELY
                             TO MY BROTHER
                             LACY L. RICE



CHARACTERS


  SAUL                   King of Israel.

  JONATHAN               Heir to the throne.

  ISHUI                  His brother.

  SAMUEL                 The Prophet of Israel.

  ABNER                  Captain of the Host of Israel.

  DOEG                   An Edomite; Chief Servant of Saul,
                           and suitor for Michal.

  ADRIEL                 A lord of Meholah, suitor for Merab.

  DAVID                  A Shepherd, secretly anointed King.

  ABISHAI                A follower of David.

  ABIATHAR               A Priest and follower of David.

  A PHILISTINE SPY

  AHINOAM                The Queen.

  MERAB                }
  MICHAL               } Daughters of Saul and Ahinoam.

  MIRIAM                 A blind Prophetess, and later the
                           “Witch of Endor.”

  JUDITH               }
  LEAH                 } Timbrel-players of the King.
  ZILLA                }

  ADAH                   Handmaiden to Merab.

    A Chorus of Women. A Band of Prophets. Followers of David.
            Soldiers of Saul. People of the Court, etc.



DAVID



ACT I


  _SCENE: A Hall of Judgment in the palace of Saul at Gibeah. The
  walls, pillars and ceiling are of cedar richly carven with images
  of serpents, pomegranates and cherubim in gold. The floors are of
  bright marble; the throne of ivory, hung with a lion’s skin whose
  head is its footstool. On the right and left, doors, draped with
  finely woven curtains of purple and white, lead to other portions
  of the palace. Seats toward the front. Lamps burn low._

  _The Hall, supported on pillars, is open along the back, where
  a Porch, surrounding the Court of the palace, crosses. Through
  the Porch, on the environing hills, glow the camp-fires of the
  Philistines, the enemies of Israel._

  _JUDITH, LEAH and ZILLA are reclining restively on the floor of
  the Hall._

JUDITH

                [_Springing to her feet impatiently._]

    O for a feast! pomegranate wine and song!

LEAH

    Oh! oh!

ZILLA

            A feast indeed! the men in camp!
    When was a laugh or any leaping here?
    Never; and none to charm with timbreling!

                      [_She goes to the porch._]

LEAH

    What shall we do?

JUDITH

                     I’ll dance.

ZILLA

                                Until you’re dead.

JUDITH

    Or till a youth wed Zilla for her beauty?
    I’ll not soil mine with sullen fear all day
    Because these Philistines press round. As well
    Be wenches gathering grapes or wool! Come, Leah.

                      [_She prepares to dance._]

LEAH

    No, Judith, I’ll put henna on my nails,
    And mend my anklet.

                          [_She sits down._]

ZILLA

    [_At the curtains._] Oh! oh, oh!

JUDITH

                                      Now hear her!
    Who, who, now? who, who is it? dog, fox, devil?

ZILLA

    All!

JUDITH

        Then ’tis Ishui! [_Bounding to curtains._] Yes, Ishui!
    And fury in him, sallow, sour fury!
    A jackal were his mate! Come, come, we’ll plague him.

ZILLA

    And too--with David whom he hates!

JUDITH

                                      Aie, David!
    A joy to rouse men up to jealousy!

LEAH

    Why hates he David, Zilla?

ZILLA

                               Stupid Leah!

JUDITH

    Hush, hush, be meet and ready now; he’s near.
    Look as for silly visions and for dreams!

    [_They pose themselves. Ishui enters--sees them. Judith sighs._]

ISHUI

    Now timbrel-gaud, why gaping here!

JUDITH

                                       O! ’tis
    Prince Ishui!

ZILLA

                  Prince Ishui! Then he
    Will tell us! he will tell us!

LEAH

                                   Yes!

JUDITH

                                        Of David!
    O is he come! when, where, quick, quick, and will
    He pluck us ecstasies out of his harp,
    Winning until we’re wanton for him, mad,
    And sigh and laugh and weep to the moon!

ISHUI

                                             Low thing!

    Chaff of the king!

JUDITH

                      The king! I had not thought!
    David a king! how beauteous would he be!

ISHUI

    David?

JUDITH

          Turban of sapphire! robe of gold!

ISHUI

    A king? o’er Israel?

JUDITH

                        Who, who can tell!
    Have you not heard? Yesterday in the camp
    Among war-old but fearful men he offered
    Kingly to meet Goliath--great Goliath!

ISHUI

    What do you say? to meet Goliath?

JUDITH

            [_Laughing in his face._] Aie!

      [_He thrusts her from him. She goes dancing with Zilla and
                                Leah._]

ADRIEL

    [_Who has entered._] Ishui, in a rage?

ISHUI

                                           Should I not be!

ADRIEL

    Not would you be yourself.

ISHUI

                               Not? [_Deftly_.] You say well.
    I should not, no. Pardon, then, Adriel.

ADRIEL

    What was the offence?

ISHUI

                          Turn from it.--I have not
    Bidden you here for vapours; yet they had
    Substance as well for you!

ADRIEL

                               For me?

ISHUI

                                       Who likes
    Laughter against him!

ADRIEL

                          I was laughed at?

ISHUI

                                            Why,
    It is this shepherd!

ADRIEL

                         David?

ISHUI

                                With his harp!
    Flinging enchantment on the palace air
    Till he impassions to him all who breathe.

ADRIEL

    What sting from that? He’s lovable and brave.

ISHUI

    Lovable? _Lovable?_

ADRIEL

                        I do not see.

ISHUI

    This then: you’ve hither come with gifts and gold,
    Dream-bringing amethyst and weft of Ind,
    To wed my sister, Merab?

ADRIEL

                             It is so.

ISHUI

    And you’ve the king’s consent; but she denies?

ADRIEL

    As every wind, you know it.

ISHUI

                                Still denies!
    And you, lost in the maze of her, fare on
    Blindly and find no reason for it!

ADRIEL

                                       How?
    What reason can be? women are not clear;
    And least unto themselves.

ISHUI

                               Or to their fools.

              [_He goes to curtains and draws out Adah._]

    Your mistress, Merab, girl, whom does she love?
    Unclench your hands.

ADAH

                         I hate her.

ISHUI

                                     Insolent!
    Answer; I am not milky Jonathan.
    Answer; and for the rest--You hear?

ADAH

                                        She loves--
    The shepherd David!

ADRIEL

                        Who, girl?

ADAH

                                   I care not!
    She is unkind; I wilt not spy for her
    On Michal, and I’ll tell her secrets all!
    And David does not love her--and she raves.

ISHUI

    Off to your sleep; now off--

                       [_Makes to strikes her._]

ADRIEL

                                 Ishui, no.

                            [ADAH _goes_.]

ISHUI

    And see you now how ‘lovable’ he is!
    I tell you that he stands athwart us all!
    The heart of Merab swung a censer to him,
    My seat at table with the king usurped!
    Mildew and mocking to the harp of Doeg,
    As it were any slave’s; the while we all
    Are lepered with suspicion.

ADRIEL

                                Of the king?

ISHUI

    Ah! and of Jonathan and Michal.

ADRIEL

                                    Hush.

                [_Enter_ MICHAL _passing with_ MIRIAM.]

    Michal, delay. Whom lead you?

MICHAL

                                  Miriam,
    A prophetess.

ADRIEL

                  How of the king to-night?

MICHAL

    He’s not at rest; dreads Samuel’s prophecy
    The throne shall pass from him, and darkens more
    Against this boundless Philistine Goliath
    Who dares at Israel daily on the hills,
    As we were dogs!

ADRIEL

                     Is David with him?

MICHAL

                                        No;
    But he is sent for--and will ease him--Ah!
    He’s wonderful to heal the king with his harp!
    A waft, a sunny leap of melody,
    And swift the hovering mad shadow’s gone--
    As magic!

ISHUI

              Michal.… Curst!

MICHAL

                                What anger’s this?

ISHUI

    Disdaining Doeg and his plea to dust,
    His waiting and the winning-o’er of Edom,
    You are enamoured of this David too?

MICHAL

    I think my brother Ishui hath a fever.

                  [_She goes--calmly, with Miriam._]

ISHUI

    Now are you kindled--are you quivering,
    Or must this shepherd put upon us more?

ADRIEL

    But has he not dealt honorably?

ISHUI

                                    No.

ADRIEL

    Why do you urge it?

ISHUI

                        Why have senses. He
    With Samuel the prophet fast enshrouds
    Some secret, and has Samuel not told
    The kingdom from my father shall be rent
    And fall unto another?

ADRIEL

                           You are certain?

ISHUI

    As granite.

                 [_Voices are heard in altercation._]

                Yonder!

ADRIEL

                        The king?

ISHUI

                                  And Samuel
    With prophecy or some refusal tears him!

        [_They step aside._ SAUL _followed by_ SAMUEL _strides
                      in and mounts the throne_.]

SAUL

    You threat, and ever thunder threatening!
    Pour seething prophesy into my veins,
    Till a simoon of madness in me moves.
    Am I not king, the king? chosen and sealed?
    Who’ve been anathema and have been bane
    Unto the foes of Israel, and filled
    The earth with death of them?
    And do you still forbid that I bear gold
    And bribe away this Philistine array
    Folded about us, fettering with flame?

SAMUEL

    Yes,--yes! While there is air, and awe of Heaven
    Do I forbid! A champion must rise
    To level this Goliath. Thus may we
    Loose on them pest of panic and of fear.

SAUL

    Are forty days not dead? A champion!
    None will arise--’tis vain. And I’ll not wait
    On miracle.

SAMUEL

                Offer thy daughter then,
    Michal, thy fairest, to whoever shall.

SAUL

    Demand and drain for more! without an end.
    Ever vexation! No; I will not.

SAMUEL

                                   Then,
    Out of Jehovah and a vast foreseen
    I tell thee again, thou perilous proud king,
    The sceptre shall slip from thee to another!

                          [_He moves to go._]

SAUL

    The sceptre.…

SAMUEL

                    To another!

SAUL

                                From me! No!
    You rouse afar the billowing of ill.
    I grant--go not!--I grovel to your will,
    Fear it and fawn as to omnipotence,

                  [_Snatching at_ SAMUEL’S _mantle_.]

    And vow to all its divination--all!

SAMUEL

    Then, Saul of Israel, the hour is near,
    When shall arise one, and Goliath fall!

           [SAMUEL _goes slowly out_, SAUL _sinks back_.]

ISHUI

    Oh,--subtle!

SAUL

                 Thus he sways me.

ISHUI

                                   Subtle!--subtle!
    And yet I must not speak; come, Adriel,
    No use of us here.

                       [_He makes as if to go._]

SAUL

                       Use? subtle? Stand!

ISHUI

    No, father, no.

SAUL

                    What mean you?

ISHUI

                                   Do not ask.…
    Yet how it creeps, and how!

SAUL

                                Unveil your words.

ISHUI

    Do you not see it crawl, this serpent scheme?
    Goliath slain--the people mad with praise,
    Then fallen from you--Michal the victor’s wife.…

SAUL

    Say on; say on.

ISHUI

                    Or else the champion slain--
    Fear on the people--panic--the kingdom’s ruin!

SAUL

    Now do the folds slip from me.

ISHUI

                                   And you see?
    Ah then, if one arise? If one arise?

SAUL

    Death, death! If he hath touched this prophet--if
    Merely a little moment!--

ISHUI

                              I have seen
    Your David with him.

SAUL

                         Death! if--Come here: David?

ISHUI

    In secret.

SAUL

               Say you?

ISHUI

                        Yes,

SAUL

                             The folds slip further;
    To this you lead me--hatred against David!
    To this with supple envy’s easy glide!

ISHUI

    I have but told--

SAUL

                      You have but builded lies,
    As ever you are building and forever.
    I’ll hear no more against him--Abner--No.

                      [_To_ ABNER, _who enters_.]

    David, and with his harp.

ABNER

                              My lord--

SAUL

                                        Not come?
    He is not come? And never! but delays.

ABNER

    Time’s yet to pass.

SAUL

                        There is not--Am I king?

                         [_A harp is heard._]

    See you, ’tis he! ’Tis David, and he sings!

DAVID [_Bravely, within._]

              Smiter of hosts,
              Terrible Saul!
    Vile on the hills shall he laugh who boasts
              None is among
              Great Israel’s all
    Fearless for Saul, king Saul!

                [_Entering with people of the palace._]

              Aye, is there none
              Galled of the sting,
    Will at the soul of Goliath run?
              Wring it and up
              To his false gods fling?…
    None for the king, the king?

       [_He drops to his knee, amid praise, before the throne._]

SAUL [_Darkening_]

                                 Forego this praise and stand
    Away from him; ’tis overmuch.
    [_To_ DAVID]                  Why have
    You dallied and delayed?

DAVID

                             My lord, delayed?

SAUL

    Do not smile wonder, mocking!

DAVID

                                  Why, my lord,
    I do not mock. Only the birds have wings.
    Yet on the vales behind me I have left
    Haste and a swirling wonderment of air,
    And in the torrent’s troubled vein amaze,
    So swift I hurried hither at your urgence
    Out of the fields and folding the far sheep!

SAUL

    You have not; you have dallied.

               [_He motions. All go but_ DAVID, _whom he
                 comes down toward, indeterminately_.]

                                    You have dallied.

DAVID

    Deep in the king I see a darkness foam
    And sheeted passion, as a lightning gust.
    Shall I not play to him?

SAUL

                             You shall not, no.

                      [_Slowly draws a dagger._]

    I’ll not be lulled.

DAVID

                        Is it a tiger gleam,
    Terrible fury stealing from the heart
    And crouching cold within the eye of Saul?

SAUL

    I’ll not endure. They say that you--

DAVID

                                          They say?
    What is this ravage in you. Does the truth
    So limpid overflow in palaces?
    Never an enemy to venom it?
    Am I not David, faithful, and thy friend?

SAUL

    I’ll slay you, and regretless.

DAVID [_Unmoving_]

                                   Slay, my lord?

SAUL

    Do you not fear? and brave me to my breast!

DAVID

    Have I done wrong that I should fear the king?
    Reed as I am, could he not breathe and break?
    And I should be oblivion at a word!
    But under the terror of his might have I
    Not seen his heart beat justice and beat love?
    See, even now…!

SAUL

                      I will not listen to them!

DAVID

    To whom, my lord, and what?

SAUL

                                Ever they say,
    “This David,” and “this David!”

DAVID

                                    Ah, my harp!

SAUL

    But think you, David, I shall lose the kingdom?

DAVID [_Starting_]

    My lord…!

SAUL

                Pain in your eyes? you think it? Deem
    I cannot overleap this destiny?

DAVID

    To that let us not verge; it has but ill.
    Deeper the future gulf is for our fears.
    Forget it. Forget the brink may ever gape,
    And wield the throne so well that God himself
    _Must_ not unking you, more than he would cry
    The morning star from Heaven! Then, I swear it,
    None else will!

SAUL

                    Swear?

DAVID

                           Nay, nay!

SAUL

                                     You swear?

DAVID

                                                But words,
    Foolishly from the heart; a shepherd speech!
    Give them no mood; but see, see yonder fires
    Camping upon the peace of Israel,
    As we were carrion beneath the sun!
    Let us conceive annihilation on them,
    Hurricane rush and deluging and ruin.

SAUL

    Ah, but the prophecy! the prophecy!
    It eats in me the food of rest and ease.
    And David, nearer: Samuel in my stead
    Another hath anointed.

DAVID

                           Saul, not this!
    This should not fall to me, my lord; no more!
    You cannot understand; it pains beyond
    All duty and enduring!

SAUL

                           Pains beyond…?
    Who is he? know you of him? do you? know you?
    You sup the confidence of Samuel?
    I’ll search from Nile to Nineveh--

DAVID

                                       My lord!

SAUL

    Mountain and desert, wilderness and sea,
    Under and over, search--and find.

DAVID

                                      Peace, peace!

                     [_Enter_ MICHAL _joyously_.]

MICHAL

    O father, father! David! Listen!--Why,
    All here is dark and quivering as pain,
    And a foreboding binds me ere I breathe!
    David, you have not been as sun to him!

DAVID

    But Michal will be now.

SAUL

                            Child, well, what then?

MICHAL

    Father, a secret! Oh, and it will make
    Dawn and delight in you!

SAUL

                             Perhaps; then, well?

MICHAL

    Oh, I have heard…!

SAUL

                         Have heard?--Why do you pale?

                  [_She stands unaccountably moved._]

    Now are you Baal-bit?

DAVID

                          Michal!

MICHAL [_In terror._]

                                  David!… the dread.
    What does it mean? I cannot speak! It shrinks
    Shivering down upon my heart in awe!

DAVID

    So piteous are you? suddenly so numb?
    And you are faint? let it rush from your lips!
    Can any moving in the world so bring
    Terror upon you! Speak, what is it?

MICHAL

                                        Ah!
    I know not; danger rising and its wing
    Sudden against my lips!

DAVID

                            To warn?

MICHAL

                                     It shall not!
    There--now again flows joy; I think it flows.

SAUL

    Then--you have heard…?

MICHAL

                             Yes, father, yes! Have you
    Not much desired discovery of whom
    Samuel hath anointed?

SAUL

                          Well?

MICHAL

                                I’ve found

                          [DAVID _blenches_.]

    Almost have found! A prophetess to-day
    Hath told me that he is a--

                  [_She stops in realizing horror._]

SAUL

                                Now you cease?
    Sudden and senseless!

MICHAL

                          David?--No!

SAUL

                                      God! God!
    Have I not bidden swiftly! Ever then
    Vexation! I could--No. Will she not speak!

MICHAL

    I cannot.

SAUL

              Cannot! Are you flesh of me!

DAVID

    My lord, not anger! Hear me …

SAUL

                                     Cannot?

DAVID

                                             Hear!
    Her lips could never seal upon a wrong.
    Sudden divinity is on them, silence
    Sent for the benison of Israel,
    Else were it shattered by her love to you!
    Believe! in all the riven realm of duty
    There’s no obedience from thee she would hold.
    If it seem other--

                     [_Enter_ ABNER _hurriedly_.]

ABNER

                       Pardon, O king. At once!

SAUL

    I will not. Do you come with vexing too?

ABNER

    The Philistines--some fury is afoot.
    A spy within our gates--and scorns to speak.

SAUL

    Conspiracy of silence!… Back to him.

                            [ABNER _goes_.]

    [_To_ DAVID _and_ MICHAL.] But you--I’ll not forget.
    I’ll not forget.

                            [SAUL _goes_.]

DAVID

    Forget! anointing! peril! what are they all!
    Michal?--for me you have done this, for me?

                       [_She stands immovable._]

    I am swung with joy, as palms of Abila!

                           [_Goes to her._]

    A princess, you, and the veins of you live warm
    With sympathy and love unto your father,
    Yet you have shielded me?

MICHAL

                              You are the anointed?

DAVID

    I am--oh do not flint your loveliness!--
    I am the anointed, but all innocent
    In will or hope of any envious wrong
    As lily blowing of blasphemy! as dew
    Upon it is of enmity!

MICHAL

                          Anointed!
    You whom the king uplifted from the fields!

DAVID

    And who am ever faithful to him!

MICHAL

                                     You,
    Whom Jonathan loves more than women love!

DAVID

    Yet reaches not my love to Jonathan!

MICHAL

    You--you!

DAVID

              But, hear me!

MICHAL

                            You, of all!

DAVID

                                         O Hear!
    Of my anointing Jonathan is ’ware,
    Knows it is holy, helpless, innocent
    As dawn or a drift of dreaming in the night!
    Knows it unsought--out of the skies--supernal--
    From the inspirèd cruse of Samuel!
    For Israel it dripped upon me, and
    For Israel must drip until I die!
    Or till high Gath and Askalon are blown
    Dust on the wind, and all Philistia
    Lie peopleless and still under the stars!--
    Goliath, then, a laughter evermore!…
    Still, still you shrink! do you not see, not feel?

MICHAL

    So have you breathed yourself about my heart,
    Even as moon-lit incense, spirit flame
    Burning away all barrier!

DAVID

                              But see!

MICHAL

    And all the world has streamed a rapture in,
    Till even now my lids from anger falter
    And the dew falls!

DAVID

                       Restrain! O do not weep!
    Upon my heart each tear were as a sea
    Flooding it from all duty but the course
    Of thy delight!

MICHAL

                    Poor, that I should have tears!
    Fury were better, tempest! O weak eyes,
    When ’tis my father, and with Samuel
    You creep to steal his kingdom!

DAVID

                                    Michal!… God!

MICHAL

    Yes, steal it!

DAVID

                   Cruel! fell accusal! Yes,
    Utterly false and full of wounding!
    [_Struggling, then with control._] Yet,
    Forgive that even when thy arrows drive
    Deeper than all the skill of time can draw,
    I spare thee not the furrowed face of pain.…
    Delirious wings of hope that fluttered up,
    At last to fall!

                           [_Moves to go._]

MICHAL

                     David!

DAVID

                            Farewell!

MICHAL

                                      … You must not!

DAVID

    Peace to you--peace and joy!

MICHAL

                                 You must not go!

              [_He turns. She sways, then reaches out her
              arms. As irresistibly they move toward each
               other_, DOEG _and_ MERAB _appear through
               the curtains_. MICHAL _utters a low cry_.
                            _They vanish._]

MICHAL

    [_In numb affright_] Merab and Doeg!

DAVID

                                         Yet what matter, now!
    Were it the driven night-unshrouded dead!
    Under the firmament is but one need,
    That you will understand!

MICHAL

                              But Merab! ah,
    She’s cunning, cold and cruel, and she loves thee;
    Hath told her love to Ahinoam the queen!
    And Doeg hates thee--since for me he’s mad!

DAVID

    Be it, his hate, as wild, as wide as winds
    That gather up the desert for their blast,
    Be it as Sheol deep, stronger than stars
    That fling fate on us, and I care not, care not,
    If I am trusted and to Michal truth!
    Hear, hear me! for the kingdom, tho ’t may come,
    I yearn not, but for you!

MICHAL

                              No, no!

DAVID

                                      For you!
    Since I a shepherd o’er a wild of hills
    First beheld you the daughter of the king
    Amid his servants, leaning, still with noon,
    Beautiful under a tamarisk, until
    All beauty else is dead--

MICHAL

                              Ah cease!

DAVID

                                        Since then,
    I have been wonder ecstasy and dream!
    The molded light and fragrant miracle,
    Body of you and soul, lifted me till
    When you departed--

MICHAL

                        No, you rend me!

DAVID

                                         I
    Fell thro’ infinity of void!

MICHAL

                                 No more!

DAVID

    Then came the prophet Samuel with anointing!
    My hope sprung as the sun!

MICHAL

                               I must not hear!

DAVID

    Then was I called to play before the king.
    Here in this hall where cherubim shine out,
    Where the night silence--

MICHAL

                              David!

DAVID

                                     Strung me tense,
    I waited, shepherd-timid, and you came,
    You for the king to try my skill! you, you!

MICHAL

    Leave me, ah leave! I yield!

DAVID

                                 And often since
    Have we not swayed and swept thro’ happy hours,
    Far from the birth unto the bourne of bliss?

MICHAL

    And I--

DAVID

            To-night you did not to the king
    Reveal my helpless chrism, give me to peril.
    Say but the reason!

MICHAL

                        David!

DAVID

                               Speak, O speak!

MICHAL

    And shall I, shall I? how this prophetess
    Miriam hath foretold--

DAVID

                           Some wonder? speak!

MICHAL [_Springing up the throne._] Hath told I shall be queen of Israel!

DAVID

    Michal, the queen? the queen! We two are then
    Yoked of eternity unto this end!

MICHAL [_Shrinking down._] No, no! horror in me moans out against it!
    Wed me with destiny against my father?
    Dethrone my mother? Ah!

DAVID

                            Not that--no wrong!

MICHAL

    Then swear conspiracy upon its tide
    Never shall lift you!

DAVID

                          Deeper than soul or sea,
    Deep as divinity is deep, I swear.
    If it shall come, the kingdom--

MICHAL

                                    “If!” not “if.”
    Surrender this anointing! Spurn it, say
    You never will be king though Israel
    Kingless go mad for it!

DAVID

                            I cannot.

MICHAL

                                      Guile!

DAVID

    I cannot--and I must not. It is holy!

MICHAL

    Then must I hate you--scorn you--

DAVID

                                      Michal!
MICHAL

                                              And will.
    But to reign over Israel you care,
    Not for the peace of it!

DAVID

                             Thus all is vain;
    A seething on the lips, I’ll say no more …
    Care but to reign and not for Israel’s calm?
    I who am wounded with her every wound?…
    Look out upon yon Philistine bold fires
    Lapping the night with bloody tongue--look out!

                   [_A commotion is heard within._]

    As God has swung the world and hung forever
    The infinite in awe, to-morrow night
    Not one of them shall burn!

MICHAL

                                You pall me!

DAVID

                                             None!

MICHAL

    What is this strength! It seizes on me! No,
    I’ll not believe, no, no, more than I would
    From a boy’s breath or the mere sling you wear
    A multitude should flee! And you shall learn
    A daughter to a father may be true
    Tho paleness be her doom until she die!

            [_She turns to go. Enter_ JONATHAN _eagerly_.]

JONATHAN

    David!

DAVID

           My friend--my Jonathan! ’Tis you?

                   [_They embrace._ MICHAL _goes_.]

JONATHAN

    Great heart, I’ve heard how yesterday before
    The soldiers you.… But Michal gone? No word?

DAVID

    The anointing.

JONATHAN

                   Ah, she knows?

DAVID

                                  All.

JONATHAN

                                       And disdains
    Believing? tell me.

DAVID

                        No, not now--not now.
    Let me forget it in a leap of deeds.

                    [_The commotion sounds again._]

    And all this murmur misty of distress,
    What is it? sprung of the Philistines? new terror?
    This sounding giant flings again his foam?
    Jonathan, I am flame that will not wait,
    What is it? I must strike.

JONATHAN

                               David.…

DAVID

                                         Tell me,
    And do not bring dissuasion more, or pause.

JONATHAN

    The king comes here.
DAVID

                         Now?

JONATHAN

                              With a spy who keeps
    Fiercely to silence.

DAVID

                         Then is peril up!
    Jonathan--!

JONATHAN

                David, you must cool from this.
    Determination surges you o’erfar.
    I will not see you rush on perishing,
    Not though it be the aid of Israel.

DAVID

    I must.… I will not let them ever throng,
    Staining the hills, and starving us from peace.
    Rather the last ray living in me, rather
    Death and the desecration of the worm.
    Bid me not back with love, nor plea; I must!

JONATHAN

    But think--

DAVID

                I must.

JONATHAN

                        ’Twere futile.

DAVID

                                       Hear; the king!

JONATHAN

    The madness of it!

DAVID

                       No, and see; they come.

JONATHAN

    Strangely my father is unstrung.

DAVID

                                     They come.

            [_Enter_ SAUL _with_ SAMUEL; _Soldiers with the
               spy_; AHINOAM _with_ ABNER; _and all the
                      court in suppressed dread_.]

SAUL

    [_To_ SAMUEL] He will not speak, but scorns me, and his lips
    Bitterly curve and grapple. But he shall
    Learn there is torture to it! Set him forth.

                    [_The spy is thrust forward._]

    Tighten his bonds up till he moan.

                            [_It is done._]

                                       Aye, gasp,
    Accursed Philistine! Now wilt thou tell
    The plan and passion of thy people ’gainst us?

SPY

    Baal!

SAUL

    Tighten the torture more.… Now will you?

SPY [_In agony._]

                                               Yea!

SAUL

    On, then, reveal.

SPY

                      New forces have arrived.
    Numberless; more than peaks of Arabah.

                  [_General movement of uneasiness._]

    Unless before to-morrow’s moon one’s sent
    To overthrow Goliath--Gods! the pain!

SAUL

    Well?--Well?

SPY

                 Then Gibeah attacked, and all
    Even to sucking babes be put to sword!

                       [_A movement of horror._]

AHINOAM

    All Gibeah!

A WOMAN

                My little ones? No, no!

                    [_She rushes frantically out._]

SAMUEL

    Then, Saul of Gibeah, one thing and one
    Alone is to be done. A champion,
    To break this beetling giant down to death!

SAUL

    There is none.

SAMUEL

                   Is none! Call! I order it.

SAUL

    Then who will dare against him!

                            [_A silence._]

                                    See you now.

SAMUEL

    You, Abner, will not?

ABNER

                          It were death and vain.

SAMUEL

    Doeg, chief servant of the king?

DOEG

                                     Why me?
    Had I a mother out of Israel?
    I am an alien, an Edomite.

DAVID

    My lord, this is no more endurable!
    Futile and death? Alien? Edomite?
    Has not this Philistine before the gates
    With insult and illimitable breath
    Vaunting of vanity and smiting laughter
    Boasted and braved and threatened up to Baal?
    And now unless one slay him, Israel
    From babe to age must bleed and be no more!
    I am a shepherd, have but seized the lion
    And throttled the bleating kid out of his throat;
    Little it then beseems that I thrust in
    Where battle captains pale and falter off;
    But this is past all carp of rank or station.
    One must go out--Goliath must have end.

DOEG

    Ah, ah! and _you_ will!

ISHUI

                            _You?_

JONATHAN

                                   No, David!

SAUL

                                              _You?_

DAVID

    Sudden you hound about me ravenous?
    Have I thrown doom not daring to your feet,
    Ruler of Israel, that you rise wild,
    Livid above me as an avalanche?

DOEG

    A plot! it is a plot! He will be slain--
    From you, my lord, dominion then will fall!
    Or should it not …

SAMUEL

                         Liar; it is no plot.
    But courage sprung seraphic out of night,
    Beautiful and a bravery from God!

MICHAL [_Behind the throng._]

    Open, and let me enter! Open!

                            [_She enters._]

                                  Father,
    It is not false? but now, the uttermost?
    To-morrow, if Goliath still exult,
    There’s peril of desolation, bloody ruin?

SAMUEL

    I answer for him.

MICHAL

                      Then to your will,
    Father, unto will of yesterday
    I bend me now with sacrificial joy.
    Unto Goliath’s slayer is the hand
    Of Michal, the king’s daughter!

DAVID [_Joyously_]

                                    Michal! Michal!

DOEG

    See, see, my lord! Do you not understand?

ISHUI

    It is another coiling of their plot!

MICHAL

    Coiling of plot? What mean you?

MERAB

                                    Ah? You know
    Not it is David offers against Goliath?

MICHAL

    David? [_Shrinking_] David?

                   [_A low tumult is heard without.
                     Enter a Captain hurriedly._]

CAPTAIN

                                     O King, bid me to speak!

SAUL

    Then speak!

CAPTAIN

                Fear is upon the host. There will
    Be mutiny unless, Goliath slain,
    Courage spring up anew.

DAVID

                            My lord, then, choose!
    Ere longer waiting fester to disaster.

SAMUEL

    Yea, king of Gibeah, and bid him go,
    And Michal for his meed! or evermore
    Evil be on you and the sear of shame--
    And haunting memory beyond the tomb!

SAUL

    Then let him--let him. And upon the field
    Of Ephes-Dammin. But I am not blind!

                             [_To_ ABNER]

    Let him, to morrow! Go, prepare the host.
    Yet--I am king, remember! I am king!

           [SAUL _goes_; _there is a murmur of relief_. _All
           except_ MICHAL _follow, with various expressions
                    of joy or hate toward_ DAVID.]

DAVID

    Michal!

           [_She looks at him; struggles against tears, and
              turning, goes._ DAVID _stands gazing sadly
           after her_. _Then a trumpet sounds, and soldiers
                shouting exultantly without, throng to
                             the porch._]

DAVID [_Thrilled; his hand on his sling_]

            For Israel! For Israel!

                   [_He goes, toward the soldiers._]

                             [_CURTAIN._]



ACT II


  _SCENE: The royal tent of Saul pitched on one hill of the
  battle-field of Ephes-Dammin. The tent is of black embroidered
  with various warlike designs. To one side on a dais are the
  chairs of SAUL and AHINOAM; also DAVID’S harp. On the other side,
  toward the front, is a table with wine and wine cups. The tent
  wall is lifted along the back, revealing on the opposite hill,
  across a deep narrow valley, the routed camp of the Philistines:
  before it in gleaming brazen armor lies GOLIATH slain. Other
  hills beyond, and the sky above. By the wine table, her back to
  the battle-field, sits MERAB in cold anger. AHINOAM and several
  women look out in ecstasy toward DAVID, SAUL, JONATHAN and the
  army, returning victorious and shouting._

FIRST WOMAN

    See, see, at last!

SECOND WOMAN

                       They come!

THIRD WOMAN

                                  An avalanche.
    Over the brook and bright amid hosannas!

SECOND WOMAN

    And now amid the rushes!

FIRST WOMAN

                             And the servants!
    Goliath’s head high-borne upon a charger!
    The rocks that cry reverberant and vast!
    The people and the palms!

THIRD WOMAN

                              Yea all the branches
    Torn from the trees! The waving of them--O!

SECOND WOMAN

    And David, see! triumphant, calm, between
    The king and Jonathan!… His glory
    All the wild generations of the wind
    Ever shall utter! Hear them--

                      [_The tumult ascends afar_]

                                   David! David!
    A sea of shouting!--
                         O queen!

AHINOAM

                                  You yearn for it?
    Then go and lave you in this tide of joy.

            [_The women go rapturously._ AHINOAM _turns_.]

MERAB

    Mother!

AHINOAM

            My daughter?

MERAB

                         Well?

AHINOAM

                               They all are gone.

MERAB

    And Michal, where?

AHINOAM

                       I do not know, my child.

MERAB

    Why did my father pledge her to him! you
    Not hindering!

AHINOAM

                   She is your sister. You
    Are pledged to Adriel.

MERAB

                           And as a slave!
    And if I do not love him there is--riches!
    If he is Sodom-bitter to me--riches!

AHINOAM

    But for the kingdom.

MERAB

                         For my torture! What
    Kingdom is to a woman as her love!

AHINOAM

    And David still enthralls you?

MERAB

                                   Though he never
    Sought me with any murmur or desire!
    Though he is Michal’s for Goliath’s death!
    Michal’s to-day, unless--

AHINOAM

                              Merab, a care!
    Too near in you were ever love and hate.

           [_The tumult nears._ AHINOAM _goes to look out._]

                       [DOEG _enters to_ MERAB.]

DOEG [_low_]

    News, Merab!

MERAB

                  Well--?

DOEG

                           A triumph o’er him, yet!
    The king is worn, as a leopard pent, between
    Wonder of David and quick jealousy
    Because of praise this whelming of Goliath
    Wakes in the people.

MERAB

                         Then? the triumph?

DOEG
                                            This.

                        [_The tumult, nearer._]

    I’ve skilfully disposed the women
    To coldly sing of Saul, but of our David
    With lavish of ecstasy as to a king.

                          [_He watches her._]

MERAB

    Then _I_ will praise him.

DOEG

                             David? you?

MERAB

                                         As he
    Was never--and shall never be again,--

DOEG

    But--

MERAB

    Give me the phial.

DOEG
                       The poison?

MERAB
                                   Come; At once!

DOEG

    What will you do?

MERAB

                      At once with it!

        [_He hands it to her. She dips the point of her dagger
                               in it._]

DOEG
                                       To stab him

MERAB

    As any fool? Wait.--And the rest now, quick.
    This timbrel-player, Judith?

DOEG

                                 She is ready
    And ravishing!

MERAB

                   Well, well; then--?

DOEG
                                       We will send her
    Sudden, as Michal is alone with David,
    To seize him with insinuative kisses,
    And arms that wind as they were wonted to him.
    Michal once jealous--and already I
    Have sowed suspicions--

MERAB

                            Will--? yes--?
DOEG

                                           On him burst [_laughs_]
    And as a fury.

MERAB

                   May it be their rending!

                         [_The tumult, near._]

    Come, we must see.

               [_They go to look out. Shouts of “David!”
            “David!” arise, and a band of timbrel-players,
                dancing and singing, followed by a band
            of priests bearing the ark with its cherubim of
              gold, pass the tent opening._ DAVID, SAUL,
               JONATHAN, ISHUI _and the Court then enter
           amid acclamations; before them servants, bearing
                the head of Goliath on a charger under
               a napkin_. SAUL _darkly mounts the throne
               with_ AHINOAM, _to waving of palms and to
                               praise_.]

A WOMAN [_breaking from the throng_.]

    Our little ones are saved! hosannah! joy!

                    [_She kisses_ DAVID’S _hand_.]

JONATHAN

    Woman, thy tongue should know an angel-word,
    Or seraph-syllables new-sung to God!
    Earth has not any rapture well for this!
    David, my brother!

DAVID

                       Jonathan, my friend!
    While life has any love, know mine for you.

JONATHAN

    Then am I friended as no man was ever!
    And though my soul were morning wide it were
    Helpless to hold my wonder and delight!
    O people, look upon him!

    THE PEOPLE

                             David! David!

JONATHAN

    Never before in Israel rose beauty
    Up to this glory!

DAVID

                      Jonathan, nay--

JONATHAN

                                      Never!

                   [_Loosing his robe and girdle._]

    Therefore I pour him splendor passionate.
    In gold and purple, this my own, I clothe him.
    David, my brother!

SAUL [_Angered._]

    Brother!

AHINOAM

             Saul?

SAUL

                   Thou fool!

JONATHAN

    Father?

AHINOAM

            My lord?

SAUL

                     Thou full-of-lauding fool!
    Of breath and ravishment unceasing!

AHINOAM

                                        Saul!

SAUL

    Is it not praise enough, has he not reached
    The skies on it!

DAVID

                     O king, my lord--

SAUL

                                       Had Saul
    Ever so rich a rapture from his son?
    Ever this worshipping of utterance?

DAVID

    My lord, my lord, this should not fret you.

DOEG [_Derisively._]

                                                Nay!

DAVID

    ’Tis only that the soul of Jonathan,
    Brimmed by the Philistines with bitterness,
    Sudden is joy and overfloweth--

DOEG

                                    Fast--

DAVID

    Upon his friend, thy servant, David.

DOEG

                                         Aie!

                      [_He turns away laughing._]

SAUL

    Why do you laugh?

DOEG

                      “Thy servant David!”

SAUL

                                           Why!

A WOMAN [_Without._]

    King Saul has slain his thousands!

DOEG

                                       “Why,” my lord?

THE WOMAN

    But David his ten thousands!

DOEG

                                 Do you hear?
    King Saul has slain his thousands, David ten!
    Thy servant is he? servant?

DAVID [_To_ SAUL.]

                                Shall thy sceptre
    Be wielded by this venom-word, as is
    A weed under the wind?

SAUL

                           ’Tis overmuch!
    I’ll burst all bond of priest or prophecy.
    Nor cringe to threatening and fondle fear.

                       [_He seizes a javelin._]

    I’ll smite where’er I will.

DAVID

                                No!

JONATHAN

                                    Father!

DAVID

                                            Shall
    A rapid palsy now come on thy hand,
    Awful and sceptre-ruined lord of men?
    An impotence, a shriveling to fear,
    Avenging ere thou shed offenceless blood?

                        [SAUL’S _hand drops_.]

    Is this thy love, the love of Saul the king?
    Who once was kindlier than kindest are.
    For but a woman’s wantonness of word
    And idle air, my life?

AHINOAM

                           Saul, Saul--!

JONATHAN

                                         The shame!

DAVID

    Some enemy--does Doeg curve his lip?--
    Hath put into her mouth this stratagem
    Of fevered false-impassioned overpraise.

         [SAUL, _silent, rises slowly and goes, entreated of_
            JONATHAN. _Many follow in doubt, whispering._]

DOEG [_To_ DAVID.]

    This is not all, boy out of Bethlehem.
    Goliath’s dead--

DAVID

                     But not all villainy?

            [DOEG _goes, flushing,--and all follow, except_
               MICHAL, _and_ MERAB, _who moves cunningly
                       forward as if incensed_.]

MERAB

    I burn for it!

DAVID

                   For what, and suddenly?

MERAB

    My father so ungenerously wroth!
    And wrought away from recompense so right;
    Can you forgive him?

DAVID

                         Merab?…

MERAB

                                   Is it strange
    That even _I_ now ask it?

DAVID

                              Merab’s self?

MERAB

    Herself and not to-day your friend; but now
    Conquered to exaltation and aglow
    To wreathe you for this might to Israel,
    Beautiful, unbelievable and bright!
    Noble the dawn of it within your dream,
    Noble the lightning of it in your arm,
    And noble in your veins the fearless flow
    And dare of blood!--so noble that I ask
    As a remembrance and bequest forever,
    In priceless covenant of peace between us,
    A drop of it--

            [_She draws her dagger and offers it to him._]

                   Upon this sacred blade.

DAVID

    Such kindness, in all honor?

MERAB

                                 Poor requital
    To one whose greatness humbles me from hate.

DAVID

    Then of my veins whatever drop you will,
    Were it the very dwelling of my soul.

            [_He takes the dagger and makes as if to prick
                              himself._]

    Ah, but you do not mock me?

MERAB

                                Rather upon
    Its edge one vein of you--than priceless nard.

DAVID

    And perfume out of India jewel poured?

                       [_He searches her eyes._]

    Or than--I may believe?--a miracle
    Of dew, were you a traveller and lost
    Upon the illimitable desert’s thirst?
    Or than--

           [_He draws his own dagger, pricks his wrist with
                      it, and hands it to her._]

              than this?

MERAB

                         Shepherd!
                                   Treachery, then?
    Under a sham of tribute, poison?

MICHAL

                                     Poison?

DAVID

    And I of vanity should prick it in?
    I a mere shepherd innocent of wile!
    A singer music-maudled and no more.

                 [_As she goes, stung with chagrin._]

    The daughter of king Saul has yet to learn.

          [_From looking after her, he turns toward_ MICHAL,
                _and, sighing, slowly approaches her_.]

    The vaunting of this victory is done.
    We are alone at last.

MICHAL

                          Yes.

DAVID

                               That is all?
    For Israel I’ve wrought to-day, for you
    Who were about me, in me, as a mist
    Of armed mighty angels triumphing.

MICHAL

    Yes? It was well.

DAVID

                      To you no more? to you
    Whom not a slave can serve unhonored?

MICHAL [_Struggling._]

                                          Nothing.

DAVID

    Empty of glow then seems it, impotent,
    A shrivelled hallowing.…
    Ashes of ecstasy that burned in vain.

MICHAL

    No, no! I--

DAVID

                Michal?

MICHAL

                        No, divine it was!
    And had I cried my praise the ground had broke
    To Eden under me with blossoming.
    Where was so wonderful a deed as this,
    So fair a springing of salvation up!
    Glory above star-soaring could I seize,
    Auras of dawn and loveliness unfading,
    To crown you with and crown!

DAVID

                                 O lips!

MICHAL

                                         With but
    A sling, a shepherd’s sling, you sped the brook,
    Drew from its bed a stone, and up the hill
    Where the great Philistine contemning cried,
    Mounted and flung it deep upon his brain!

DAVID

    This is the victory and not his death!
    Tell, tell thy joy with kisses on my lips!
    Thy mouth! thy arms! thy breast!

MICHAL

                                     No no!

DAVID

                                            Thy soul!
    Too much of waiting and of severance!
    Of dread and distance and the deep of doubt.
    Now must I fold you, falter all my love
    And triumph on your senses till they burn
    Beautiful to eternity with bliss.

MICHAL

    Loose, loose me!

DAVID

                     Nay, again! immortal kisses!

MICHAL

    A frenzy, ’tis a frenzy! From me! see!
    This irremediable victory
    Over Goliath severs us the more.

                  [_The tumult breaks again, afar._]

    Hear how the people lift you limitless!
    Almost, to-day, and in my father’s room
    They would that you were king.

DAVID

                                   But ere to-morrow
    Dim shall I be, and ere the harvest bend
    Less than a gleam in their forgotten peril!

MICHAL

    O were it, were it! But all silently
    Jehovah fast is beckoning the realm
    Into thy hands.

DAVID

                    Then futile to resist
    The gliding on of firm divinity.
    And yet whatever may be shall be done.

MICHAL

    All, all?

DAVID

              That for thee reverently may.

MICHAL

    The anointing, then--

DAVID

                          Of that!… not that!

MICHAL

                                                Yet grant
    It may be told my father; that I may
    Say to him all the secret!

DAVID

                               And provoke
    Murder in him, insatiable though
    I fled upon the wilderness and famine?

MICHAL

    He would not!

DAVID

                  Nay.

MICHAL

                       I’ll plead with him.

DAVID

                                            In vain!

MICHAL

    Then [_coldly_] it is as I thought.

DAVID

                                        You are distraught.

MICHAL

    This stroke to-day [_pointing to_ GOLIATH’S _head_]
    no love of me had in it.

DAVID

    A love, a passion fervid thro’ me as
    The tread and tremble of immortal song
    Along the infinite.

MICHAL

                        You use me!

DAVID

                                    Use?

MICHAL

    A step to rise and riot in ambition!

DAVID

    So bitter are you, blind?

MICHAL

                              It was a trick!
    You snared me to you.

DAVID

                          Michal!

MICHAL

                                  Cunningly
    With Samuel netted fears about my father
    Till I am paltrily unto you pledged.

DAVID

    Enough.

MICHAL

            Too much.

DAVID

                      No more; the pledge I fling
    Out of my heart, as ’twere enchantment dead.
    And free you; but, no more.

                        [_He moves from her._]

MICHAL

                                As if it were
    Enchantment dead. Ah, then ’tis true--there is
    Another--is another!

DAVID

                         Now what fever?
    A gentleness clad once your every grace.

MICHAL

    There is some other that you lure and love.

DAVID

    It is not Michal speaking; so I wait.

MICHAL

    Then--

           [JUDITH _glides suddenly in with a low laugh and
            kneels before_ DAVID. MICHAL _stands amazed_.]

JUDITH [_As if with amorous admiration._]

           Brave, it was brave, my love! beauteous! brave!

DAVID

    Woman?

JUDITH

           The Philistine, a brazen tower,
    A bastion of strength fell to the earth!

DAVID

    Woman, who are you?

                    [_She clasps and kisses him._]

                        Take away your flesh.
    [_Free_] Take it away, the heat and myrrh of it.

JUDITH

    So cold?

DAVID

             Away.

JUDITH

                   And ’tis no longer fair?
    [_Wantonly_] Oh! Ah! I understand! the princess?--

DAVID

                                                       Go.

          [JUDITH _obeys, laughing and shaking her timbrel_.]

MICHAL

    A dancer then, a very timbrel player!

DAVID

    Until this hour I never looked upon her.
    It is chicanery of chance or craft.
    You who are noble, though in doubt adrift,
    Be noble now!

MICHAL

                  And loving? O, I will--
    Now that I know what should be done. Be sure.

DAVID

    You mean, that Saul?--you would not, no!

MICHAL

                                             Rest sure.

           [_A hand is seen at the tent._ AHINOAM _enters_.]

AHINOAM

    David, the king--But what is this?

                           [MICHAL _goes_.]

DAVID

                                       O queen--
    It is but life.

AHINOAM

                    Nay.

DAVID

                         Life that ever strings
    Our hearts, so pitifully prone for it,
    To ecstasy--then snaps.

AHINOAM

                            I love thee, David.

DAVID

    Then gracious be, and question here no more.
    Where words are futile for an utterance.
    But of the king--the king?

AHINOAM

                               He’s driven still.
    And hither comes, and soon, and must be calmed.
    Thy harp take, winds of beauty from it bring,
    And consolation--as of valley-eves
    When there is ebb of sorrow and of toil,
    O could you heal him and forever heal.

DAVID

    Then would I be--!

            [_He breaks off with a gesture of great desire,
                  takes the harp and seats himself._]

AHINOAM

                       At once, for he will come.

      [DAVID _begins; a strain of wild sadness_. SAUL _enters and
    with him_ DOEG, ISHUI, JONATHAN--_others_. _He pauses, his hand
     to his brow, and goes slowly, enspelled of_ DAVID’s _playing,
                            up the dais_.]

AHINOAM

    My lord, shall David sing--to ease us?

SAUL

                                           Let him.

DAVID

                         [_With high sorrow._]

            O heart of woe,
    Heart of unrest and broken as a reed!

                              [_Plays._]

            O heart whose flow
    Is anguish and all the bitterness of need!

                              [_Plays._]

            O heart as a roe,
    Heart as a hind upon the mountain fleeing
          The arrow-wounds of being,
    Be still, O heart, and rest and do not bleed!

                   [_Plays longer with bowed head._]

            O days of life,
    Days that are driven swift and wild from the womb!

                              [_Plays._]

            O days so rife--
    Days that are torn of trouble, trod of doom!

                              [_Plays._]

                          [MICHAL _enters_.]

            O days of strife,
    Days of desire on deserts spread unending,
          The burning blue o’erbending,
    O days, our peace, our victory is the tomb!

        [_He plays to a close that dies in anguished silence._]

SAUL [_Rising in tears_]

    David!

DAVID

           My lord?

SAUL

                    Thy breathing! beauteous!
    Stilling to sorrow! O my friend, my son!

DAVID

    To me is this? I dream it not? The king
    Again is kind and soft his spirit moves?

SAUL

    To you!

DAVID

            How shelter o’er me then will spring
    And safety covering!

SAUL

                         It ever shall.
    Loveliest have you been among my days,
    And singing weary madness from my brain.

                     [DAVID _starts toward him_.]

    How I have wronged thee!

MICHAL

                             Wronged him? [_In fury._]

DAVID

                                          Michal!

SAUL

                                                  Girl?

MICHAL

    You have not wronged him!

DAVID

                              Michal!

MICHAL

                                      No, but he
    Is jeopardy and fate about you! drive
    Him from you utterly and now away!

                     [_Murmurs of astonishment._]

SAUL

    What mean you?

ISHUI

                   Speak.

SAUL

                          What mean you?

MICHAL

                                         This!

DAVID

                                               No word!

MICHAL

    I’ll not be kept--

DAVID

                       But shall be; for to tell
    Would rend silence forever from you--pale
    Your flesh with haunting of it evermore!
    All, all your being would become a hiss.
    A memory of syllables that sear,
    A living iteration of remorse.
    I--I myself will save your lips the words
    Of this betrayal leaping from your heart.

                        [_Nobly, before Saul._]

    You seek, my lord, you seek whom Samuel
    Anointed.

SAUL

              Yes.

DAVID

                   Then know that it is I.

SAUL

    ’Tis--?

DAVID

            I.

SAUL

               You!

DAVID

                    I. And guiltless I, no other.
    I, though I sought it not and suffer, though
    I would it had not come and fast am sworn
    Never against you to lift up--

MERAB

                                   Hear, hear!
    Now he will cozen!

DOEG

                       He, “thy servant!”

ISHUI

                                          Hear!

A VOICE [_Without._]

    A thousand Saul hath slain! But David ten!

SAUL [_Choking._]

    Omnipotence shall not withhold me more.

                        [_He lifts a javelin._]

DAVID

    Murderous king afoam with murder-heat!

                   [_He avoids from side to side._]

    Monarch of misery--of might--of rage
    So fell that lightning were not dread enough
    Were it thy bolt! To-day you will destroy me?

          [GOLIATH’S _head overturned, rolls on the floor_.]

    Upon this day will slay me innocent?

SAUL

    Die, die!

JONATHAN

              No, father, hold!

                     [SAUL _flings the javelin_.]

MICHAL [_Reeling._]

                                What have I done?

JONATHAN

    David, unhurt? Away, the wilderness.

                      [_Thrusts a sword on him._]

SAUL

    He shall not! no.

                      [_Seizes another javelin._]

DAVID [_Aflame._]

                       Then, king of Israel, strike!
    Strike me to darkness and the waiting worm!
    Into the Pit and to the hopeless gloom.
    But, after, be your every breathing blood,
    Remorse and riving bitterness and fear,
    Be guilt and all the hideous choke of horror!

     [SAUL _trembling at the curse lets the javelin fall from his
     hand_. DAVID _breaking through_ DOEG _and_ ISHUI _escapes by
     the door_. MICHAL _sinks to her knees, her face buried in her
                               hands_.]

                             [_CURTAIN._]



ACT III.


  _SCENE: A savage mountain-cliff in the wilderness of Engeddi. On
  either side gray crags rise rugged, sinking away precipitously
  across the back. Cut into each is a cave. The height is reached
  by clefts from all sides._

  _Between the crags to the East is the far blue of the Dead Sea;
  and still beyond, bathed in the waning afternoon, stretch the
  purple shores of Moab. During the act the scene grows crimson
  with sunset and a thunder-cloud rises over the sea._

  _Lying on a pallet of skins near the cliff’s verge, DAVID tosses
  feverishly. Three of his followers and a lad, who serves him,
  are gathered toward the front, ragged, hungry, and hunted, in
  altercation over a barley-cake._

DAVID

    Water! the fever fills me, and I thirst.
    Water!

FIRST FOLLOWER

           Listen.

SECOND FOLLOWER

                   He calls.

DAVID

                             Water! I thirst.

THE LAD

    Yes, yes, my lord. [_Takes up a water-skin._] Ah, empty, not a quaff!
    They’ve drunk it all from him! My lord, none’s left.
    I’ll run and in the valley brim it soon.

                   [_He goes._ DAVID _sinks back_.]

SECOND FOLLOWER [_To_ FIRST.] _You_ drank it then.

FIRST FOLLOWER

                         And should I thirst, not he?
    Give me the bread.

SECOND FOLLOWER

                       If it would strangle you.

FIRST FOLLOWER

    I’ll have it.

SECOND FOLLOWER

                  Or betray him? spitingly?
    It is the last. Already you have eat.
    And we are here within a wilderness.

FIRST FOLLOWER

    Be it, but I’ll not starve.

THIRD FOLLOWER

                                He utters right.
    Why should we but to follow a mere shepherd
    Famish and o’er a hundred desert hills?
    The prophecy portending him the throne--
    Folly, not fate! though it is Samuel’s.
    I’ll trust in it no more.

FIRST FOLLOWER

                              Nor I.

THIRD FOLLOWER

                                     And Saul
    Has driven us from waste to waste--pressed us
    Even unto the Philistines for shelter,
    And now unto this crag. And is not David’s
    Thought but of Michal, not of smiting him
    And, with a host, of leaping to the kingdom?

                       [DAVID _stirs to rise_.]

FIRST FOLLOWER

    He moves; peace!

THIRD FOLLOWER

                     Let him.

SECOND FOLLOWER

                              Peace.

THIRD FOLLOWER

                                     And fawning too?

DAVID [Sufferingly] Men--men, we must have news.
                Perpetual,
    Implacable they stare unto each other.
    This rock and stony sky.
    [_Rises and comes down to them._] We must have news.

                         [_They are silent._]

    Longer is death. ’Tis overmany days
    Of sighing and remembered verdancy;
    Nor any dew or upward odor comes.
    Who will go now and bring us word of Saul?

THIRD FOLLOWER

    Have not Abishai, Abiathar,
    And others gone?

DAVID

                     Bravely.

THIRD FOLLOWER

                              And none returned!

DAVID

    Not one of all.

THIRD FOLLOWER

                    Well, then, we are not swine,
    And life’s but once.

DAVID

                         So----?

THIRD FOLLOWER

                                 We will follow you
    No longer hungered and rewarded never,
    But perilously ever.

DAVID

                         It is well.

                [_He looses a bracelet from his arm._]

    This was a gift from Saul. In it is ease.

              [_Gives it to_ THIRD FOLLOWER, _who goes_.]

    This ring was Jonathan’s. The jewel tells
    Still of the sunny haven of his heart.
    Upon my hand he pressed it--the day we leapt
    Deeper than friends into each other’s love.

              [_Gives it to_ FIRST FOLLOWER, _who goes_.]

    This chain----

SECOND FOLLOWER

                   I want it not.

DAVID

                                  You have not thought;
    ’Tis riches--such as Sidon marts and Tyre
    Would covet.

SECOND FOLLOWER

                 I care not.

DAVID

                             None else is left.

SECOND FOLLOWER

    No matter.

DAVID

               Then----?

SECOND FOLLOWER

                         There was of Gibeah
    A woman--dear to me. Her face at night
    Weeping among my dreams.…
                                The prophecy
    Is unfulfilled, and vain!

DAVID

                              And you would go?

SECOND FOLLOWER

    The suffering--this cliff.

DAVID

                               I understand,
    [_Motions._] So, without any blame, and to content.

             [_The_ SECOND FOLLOWER _falters, then goes_.]

    [_Quietly._] A desolation left, of rock and air,
    Of barren sea and bitterness as vast.
    Thou hast bereft me, Saul! thou hast bereft!

    [_He moves up the cliff, gazes sadly away, then kneels by a
    stone, as to pray._]

    My flesh cries for oblivion--to sink
    Unwaking away into the Night … where is
    No tears, but only tides of sleep.…
                                          No, crieth
    Not for Oblivion and Night, but for
    Rage and revenge! Saul! Saul!… My spirit, peace.
    As pants the heart for the water-brook, so I!

          [_He bows his head._ MICHAL _in rags that disguise,
                   enters with the_ LAD, _unseen_.]

    Her lips it was that hurled me unto this!
    Yet, yet not violence on him and blood!
    I must revenge’s call within me quell,
    Though righteously it quivers and aflame.

               [_He goes slowly into the cave, Right._]

MICHAL

    This is the place, then, this?

LAD

                                   Yes, princess.

MICHAL

                                                  Here

    So long in want and sickness he hath hid?
    Under the livid day and lonelier night!

LAD

    I brought him water, often.

MICHAL

                                Little lad!
    But he has heard no word from me--not how
    My father, Saul, frantic of my repentance,
    Had unto Phalti, a new lord, betrothed me?
    How then I fled to win unto these wilds?

LAD

    He heard not anything--only the tales
    I told of Moab, my own land.

                        [DAVID _plays within_.]

                                 But oh!
    It is his harp.

MICHAL

                    And strains that weep o’er me!…
    I’ll speak to him … and yet must be unknown!
    A leper? as a leper could I…?

LAD

                                    Why
    Must he not know you?

MICHAL

                          Ask me not, lad, now;
    But go a little.

LAD

                     Yes.

               [_He sets down the water-skin and goes._]

MICHAL [_Delaying, then in a loud voice._] Unclean! Unclean!

                  [_Conceals her face in her hair._]

DAVID

    Who crieth here?

MICHAL

                     Unclean!

DAVID [_Appearing._] Who cries unclean?
    Poor leper in these wilds, who art thou?

MICHAL

                                             One
    Outcast and faint, forlorn!

DAVID

                                Then you have come
    To one more bitter outcast than yourself,
    One who has less than this lone void to give,
    This sterile solitude and sun, this scene
    Of leaden desolation that makes mad.
    Who has no ease but cave or shading rock,
    Or the still moon, or stars that glide the night.
    One over whom----

MICHAL

                      Yet, pity!

DAVID

                                 The pale hours
    Flow dead into eternity.

MICHAL

                             Ah, yet…!

DAVID

    My cloak, then, for thy tattered limbs. Or, no--
    This chain of Ophir for thy every need.
    Once was it dear, but should be so no more.
    [_Flinging it to her._] Have it, and with it vanish memory
    Out of my breast----

MICHAL

                         No, no.

DAVID

                                 And from me fall
    Link upon link her loveliness that bound.

MICHAL

    Oh, do not!

DAVID

                Woman…?

MICHAL

                          Nothing. A chain like this
    I once beheld wind undulantly bright
    O’er Michal, the king’s daughter.

DAVID

                                      Woman, the king’s?

MICHAL

    Pity!

DAVID

          Who are you?

MICHAL

                       Stay! Unclean!

DAVID

                                      A spy?
    A spy of Saul and hypocrite have crept
    Hither to learn…?

MICHAL

                        Have heed--unclean!

DAVID

                                            How then
    Wandering come you here?

MICHAL

                             Unclean! Unclean!

DAVID

    My brain is overfull of fever, mad.
    Almost and I had touched thy peril, held
    Thy hideous contagion.

MICHAL

                           Wrong!

DAVID

                                  Then who
    Art thou to know and speak of her, of Michal?

MICHAL

    One who has served the king.

DAVID

                                 And you have seen
    Michal, you have beheld her?

MICHAL

                                 Once, when she
    In face was fairer and in heart than now
    They say she is.

DAVID

                     And heard her speak?

MICHAL

                                          A night
    Under the leaves of Gibeah--when she
    Sang with another--David.

DAVID

                              Say no more.

MICHAL

    And from afar, under the moon, blew faint
    The treading of the wine-presses with song.
    David she loved, but anger-torn betrayed,
    Unworthy of him.

DAVID

                     Speak of her no more,
    Nor of her cruelty, unless to pray
    He she has ruined may forget her.

MICHAL

                                      Yet
    If deep she should repent----?

DAVID

                                   Leper, no more.

        [_A moment; then a jackal’s cry shrills to them._ DAVID
                              _starts_.]

    The signal. [_He listens._] Thrice repeated? Word at last?
    [_To_ MICHAL.] He who is near may prove to thee less kind.

    [_She goes. He springs to look down the cliff._]

    Abishai? Abiathar? It is!
    But staggering and wounded? breathless? torn?

     [_He watches, then turns to meet them. They enter_--ABIATHAR
           _with bloody ephod and broken breastplate_--_and
                     sink in panting exhaustion_.]

    Abishai, what is it that you bring?
    Abiathar, up! answer!

ABIATHAR

                          Water!

DAVID

                                 Up!

         [_He brings the water-skin. They drain it fiercely._]

    What is it now so fevered from you stares
    And breathing too abhorrence? Gasp it out.

ABIATHAR

    I stifle--in a universe--he still--
    Has breath in.

DAVID

                   Saul?

ABIATHAR

                         I’ll scathe him! Scorpions
    Of terror and remorse sting in his soul!

DAVID

    If you have tidings, not in words so wild.

ABIATHAR

    Then ask and hate shall calm me.

DAVID

                                     Ask?

ABIATHAR

                                          On, on!
    Seek if he lives!

DAVID

                      Who?

ABIATHAR

                           Seek if prophecy
    Founts yet in Judah!

DAVID

                         Samuel…?

ABIATHAR

                                    Is dead!…
    Dead--and of tidings more calamitous.

                             [_A pause._]

DAVID [_Hoarsely._]

    Tell on. I hear.

ABIATHAR

                     Saul gloating to believe
    The priests, assembled sacredly at Nob,
    Plotted assisting you, hath had them----

DAVID

                                             No…!

ABIATHAR

    Slain at the hands of Doeg--murdered, all!

DAVID

    But he--your father?

ABIATHAR

                         Was among them; fell.

                       [_He stands motionless._]

DAVID [_Gently._]

    Abiathar, my friend!… Appeaseless Saul!

ABIATHAR

    Hear all, hear all! Thy father, too, and mother,
    Even thy kindred, out of Israel
    Are driven into Moab; and this king,
    Delirious still for blood as desert pard,
    With Merab, whelp of him, and many armed,
    Is near us now--aquiver at Engeddi
    For your destruction:

                   [DAVID _struggles for control_.]

                          And yet you will not strike.

DAVID

    [_Low._] No, but of Michal, tell me good at once,
    Lest unendurable this lot, I may--
    and mount o’er every oath into revenge.

ABIATHAR

    Ha--Michal!

DAVID

                She withholds her father’s wrath?

ABIATHAR

    She’s well.

DAVID

                Not if you say no more.

ABIATHAR

                                        I know
    Nothing of her.

DAVID

                    Your look belies.

ABIATHAR

                                      Perhaps:
    As did her love.

DAVID

                     That is for me.

ABIATHAR

                                     Well, what?
    A woman who betrays?

DAVID

                         Speak, not evade;
    And judge her when earth has no mystery.

ABIATHAR

    Then from your craving put her--wide; she is
    Unworthy any tremor of your veins.

DAVID

    Dawn-lilies under dew are then unworthy,
    And nesting doves are horrible to heaven.
    I will not so believe. Your reason…!

ABIATHAR

                                           Saul
    Has given her--and she will wed him, aye--
    To Phalti, a new lord.

DAVID

                           Untrue of her!

ABIATHAR

    Cry. Yet you will believe it.

DAVID

                                  Not until
    The verdant parable of spring is hushed
    Ever of bloom, to prove it. Never till
    Hermon is swung into the sea! until
    The last void of the everlasting sky----

         [_Looking up he falters, breaks off, and is strangely
                     moved at something beheld._]

ABIATHAR

    What, what alarm?

ABISHAI

                      What stare you on?

ABIATHAR

                                         He’s mad?

                   [DAVID _points_. _They look up._]

ABIATHAR

    An eaglet!…

ABISHAI

                  Eaglet?

ABIATHAR

                          Pierct!

ABISHAI

                                  Pierct?…

DAVID

                                             Falling here.
    And beating against death unbuoyantly.

       [_The bird, an arrow through it, drops in throes at their
                                feet._]

    A destiny, a fate in this is hidden!

               [_He bends over it, then quickly back._]

ABIATHAR

    A destiny, how, how?

DAVID

                         The arrow!--His!
    His, and no other’s. Quick, then, no delay.

ABIATHAR

    Be clear, clearer.

DAVID

                       We are discovered--near
    On us is death. Open the secret chamber
    Within the cave, for from the bow of Saul
    Is yonder bleeding--from no other.

ABIATHAR

                                       Saul’s?
    But how, was any here?

DAVID

                           To-day, to-day.
    A leper wandering.

ABIATHAR

                       We are betrayed.

     [ABISHAI _with the water-skin hastens into the cave, Right_.
           DAVID _and_ ABIATHAR _stand listening_. _Noise of
                         approach is heard._]

DAVID

    They near.

ABIATHAR

               And many.

DAVID

                         King of Israel!
    Inexorable!

ABIATHAR

                O, rebuke him, do!

DAVID

    Almost I am beyond this tolerance.

ABIATHAR

    In truth. Therefore it is you rise and shake
    Out of his power the sceptre!

DAVID

                                  Tempt me not!
    Mercy and memory almost are dead,
    And craving birth in me is fateful ire.

      [_They follow into the cave. Hardly have they done so when
         at a shout_, SAUL, _bloodthirsty, with_ DOEG, ABNER,
       ISHUI, _and soldiers, pour in from all sides, with drawn
                              weapons_.]

SAUL

    On, to him! search the caves! In, in, and bring
    Him to my sword, and Michal with him.
    [_Pacing terrible the while._] They
    Shall couch upon eternity and dust.
    [_Weakly._] I am the king, and Israel is mine.…
    I’ll sleep upon their grave--I’ll sleep upon it,
    And hear the worm…!
    [_To a_ SOLDIER _re-entering from one cave_.] Where is he? Bring him.

SOLDIER

                          O King----

SAUL

    You’ve slain him and you tremble! Say it.

SOLDIER

                                              No.

SAUL

    Then hither with him; hither!

SOLDIER

                                  He’s not here.

SAUL

    A treachery! You cunningly contrive
    To aid him, so.…

     [_To a_ SOLDIER _re-entering fearfully from the other cave_.]

                       Bring me his head.

SOLDIER

                                          My lord,
    He is not there.

SAUL

                     I tell you it is lies--
    Because you deem that he shall be the king
    And treasure up reward and amnesty.

     [_Into one cave, then another he rushes, then out among them
                              furious._]

    From me, ill-fruited ineffectual herd!
    Away from me, he’s fled and none of you
    Is servant and will find and for me seize him!
    From me--I’ll sleep--I’ll rest--and then--

       [_All begin to crowd out, overawed, but_ DOEG and ABNER.]

                                               I’ll sleep.

        [_Slowly he moves into the cave, Left, and lies down._]

ABNER

    [_To_ DOEG, significantly.] The evil spirit.

DOEG

                                                 Yes; is on him swift
    As never before, and as a drunkenness.

ABNER

    Then, safe to leave him?

DOEG

                             Will he brook denial?

ABNER

    And Merab, too, will soon be here.

DOEG

                                       Well, come.

ABNER

    I’ll go and look upon him.

                [_Goes to_ SAUL’S _cave and returns_.]

                               Already he sleeps.

     [_Turning they encounter_ MICHAL _entering, still disguised_.
                            _She quails._]

    Woman, who are you, who?

MICHAL

                             Unclean! away!

DOEG

    Unclean? a leper? in this place? Are there
    No stones to stone you? Hence! And had I not
    A brother such as thou----

MICHAL

                               Pity! Unclean!

       [_She goes quickly; then they. A space. Then she returns
                         trembling, fearful._]

    I’ll call him! I will save him!--David! David!--
    I his discomfiture and ruin!--David!
    David! hear me! David!

      [_Searching, she approaches the cave where_ SAUL _lies, but
                         recoils terrified_.]

                           The king! my father!
    I cannot--am not--whither shall I, whither?

    [_Confused she flees, as scuffling is heard, and_ ABISHAI _and_
             ABIATHAR, _struggling with_ DAVID, _appear_.]

DAVID

    Loose me, I say. ’Twas Michal and she called.
    [_Breaking free._] I say that it was she!

ABIATHAR

                                              Foolhardy, no.
    Return into the cave, and ere too late!

                [MERAB, _veiled, enters behind them_.]

DAVID

    ’Twas Michal and no other.

ABIATHAR

                               You are duped.

DAVID

    The breathing of archangels could not so
    Have swung the burden from me as her call.

         [_Searching, he faces--and beholds_ MERAB. _His look
                         grows to coldness._]

MERAB

    It is not Michal.

DAVID

                      No--it is not Michal.

            [_He motions_ ABIATHAR _and_ ABISHAI _aside_.]

MERAB

    Yet it is one who----

DAVID

                          Need not lift her veil
    Or longer stay. The path she came is open.

MERAB

    I’m here--and here will speak! I’ve hither stolen,
    Yearning--I say it--yearning--and I will.

DAVID

    These words I do not know.

MERAB

                               Because you will not.
    More all-devouring than a Moloch is
    This love within me----

DAVID

                            Love and you are twain,
    As sun and Sheol.

MERAB

                      False. I am become
    For want of you as famine-wind, a wave
    In the mid-tempest, with no rest, no shore.

DAVID

    I do not hear the unashamed words
    Of one who has but recently another,
    Adriel, wedded.

MERAB

                    You refuse me then?

DAVID

    I beg you but to cease.

MERAB

                            Goaded, chagrined?
    No, but this will I do. The Philistines,
    For long at rioting within their walls,
    Gather again and break toward Gilboa.…

DAVID

    This is not true.

MERAB

                      To-morrow must my father
    From hunting you return and arm for battle.
    But--many would that you were king.

DAVID

                                        Were?…

MERAB

                                                 King!

DAVID

    I do not understand your eyes.

MERAB

                                   I will
    For love of you arouse rebellion up,
    Murmur about the host your heaven-call,
    And lift you to the kingdom.

DAVID

                                 To the--stay!
    Your words again.

MERAB

                      The kingdom.

DAVID

                                   Awful God!

MERAB

    What is your mien? you will not?

DAVID

                                     Twice the words--
    Full from her lips--and to betray her father.

                     [ABIATHAR _discovers_ SAUL.]

MERAB

    You will not? answer!

DAVID

                          Odious utterly!
    As yonder sea of death and bitter salt,
    As foam-girt Joppa of idolatry,
    As Memphian fane of all abhorrencies!
    Morning would move with horror of it, noon
    A livid sepulchre of shame span o’er,
    And night shrink to remember day had been!

MERAB

    You scorn--you scorn me?

DAVID

                             Jonathan! your sister!

MERAB

    Then Saul shall rend you dead. And Jonathan!…

                        [_She laughs shrilly._]

    Perchance you have not heard that Jonathan
    Knows to the Philistines you fled--and loathes you!

DAVID

    I have not heard.

MERAB

                      Nor have not, ah? how Michal
    Is given to the embraces of another?

                          [DAVID _shrinks_.]

    You desperately breathe and pale at last?

                     [_She laughs more bitterly._]

    To me for aid, to me, you yet shall come.

       [_She goes._ DAVID _slowly lifts his hand to his brow in
         heavy pain_. ABIATHAR--_and soon_ ABISHAI--_abruptly
                   descends from the cave to him_.]

ABIATHAR

    David----

DAVID

              Leave me.

ABIATHAR

                        Not till you know--and strike!

DAVID

    I tell you go.

ABIATHAR

                   I tell you ’tis the king.

DAVID

    Who breaks forbearance--yes.

ABIATHAR

                                 Who lieth yonder,
    And sleeping lieth--for a thrust to end.

DAVID

                [_His sword quickly out, struggling._]

    This throb and wounds that wring me! and this wail
    Under the deeps of me against his wrongs,
    Awakening remembrance that with burst
    And burn of pain.… O, never-ceasing ill!

                 [_Flings the sword down, anguished._]

ABIATHAR

    You will not come?

DAVID

                       The sun is set.

ABIATHAR

                                       Has Saul
    Hunted you to this desert’s verge----?

DAVID

                                           Enough!

ABIATHAR

    Has he pursued you, all his hate unleashed?
    Is Samuel not slain? the priests? my father?
    The kingdom is not in decay, and falls?
    You are not prophecy’s anointed one?
    Seize up the sword and strike--or I myself!

DAVID

    Or … you yourself…?

     [_Silently he puts them aside, takes up the sword, and slowly
                      goes into_ SAUL’S _cave_.]

ABISHAI

                            What will he do? Listen!

                       [MICHAL _enters unseen_.]

ABIATHAR

    If Saul cries out.…

ABISHAI

                          Be ready.…

MICHAL

    [_To them._]                       What is this!

    [DAVID, _haggard, with drawn sword and a piece of_ SAUL’S
    _cloak in his hand, re-enters from the cave_. _He sees_
    MICHAL, _pauses, and gazes upon her, as she on him,
    with rising emotion_.]

MICHAL [_Inarticulate. Then._]

                                            Ah, you have slain--
    Have slain him! Wretch! thou wretch!
    And sleeping as he was!

DAVID

                            Then it was you?
    In lying rags?

MICHAL

                   Have struck him in his sleep!
    And merciless!--And now will kill me, too?

DAVID

    In faithless rags? You are the leper? Who

                         [_Growing frenzied._]

    Drove me a prey unto this wilderness!
    Upon the blot of it and death and sear!
    The silence, burning, and relentless swoon!
    You are the leper, who have broken troth
    And shut the cry of justice from your breast!
    Who’ve stifled me with desolation’s woe,
    Who’ve followed still and still have me betrayed!

MICHAL

    Betrayed? No, loose me!

DAVID

                            Slain thy father? slain?

         [_Flinging the piece of_ SAUL’S _cloak at her feet_.]

    See how I might--see, see you, yonder he lies
    A king who quits the kingdom, though a cloud
    Of Philistines is foaming toward Gilboa;
    Jeoparded leaves it, undefended, for
    Pursuit of me and pitiless harrying!
    A king who murders priests.…

MICHAL

                                   Priests?

DAVID

                                            Stifles God
    With penitence that he has shaped the world!
    Have slain? have slain him! I have slain him! Ah!
    Ah, that I had thy falseness and could slay him!

MICHAL

    David!…

DAVID

              Nevermore near me! never with
    That quivering and tenderness of lure.
    Those eyes that hold infinity of fate,
    That breathing cassia-sweet, but sorcery!

MICHAL

    Oh.…

DAVID

           Never thy presence pouring beauty, swift,
    And seething in the brain as frantic wine!
    I’ll be no more enspelled of thee--never!
    I will not hear thee and be wound by words
    Into thy wile as wide as Ashtoreth’s,
    Back into hope, eternity of pain!

         [_In agony he goes_, ABIATHAR _and_ ABISHAI _after_.
        MICHAL _stands gazing fearlessly before her, as_ SAUL,
        _awakened, slowly comes from the mouth of the cave down
                             toward her_.]

                             [_CURTAIN._]



ACT IV.


  _SCENE: The House of MIRIAM, the “Witch of Endor,” by Mount
  Gilboa--where Saul is encamped against the Philistines. It is of
  one story, built rectangularly about an inner court, which is
  dimly lighted._

  _Under the gallery which ranges around the court are doors
  leading to the sleeping and other apartments; before one of
  these, a lattice. On the left is the gate opening to the street.
  In the back to one side, the teraphim, or image of divination; on
  the other side a stairway mounts to the roof. Above is the night,
  and vague lightning amid a moan of wind. During the act comes
  dawn._

  _Forward on a divan sits MIRIAM alone, in blind restlessness._

MIRIAM

    Adah!
          The child is sunken in a sleep.
    Yet would I have her near me in this night,
    And hear again the boding of her tale.
    Unto the blind the vision and the awe
    Of the invisible sway ever in,
    The shadow of nativities that lead
    Upon fatality.
                   Girl! Adah! girl!

       [_The wind passes._ ADAH _enters from a chamber, rubbing
                              her eyes_.]

    Thou art awake?

ADAH

                    I slumbered.

MIRIAM

                                 Stand you where
    Fathoming I may feel within you. Now,
    Again--you’ve hither fled your mistress Merab,
    In fear of her?

ADAH

                    Yes.

MIRIAM

                         At Engeddi Michal
    By Saul was apprehended? Merab now
    Plotteth against her--she and Doeg?

ADAH

                                        Still.

MIRIAM

    And ’twas in Merab’s tent you heard, the king
    Despairing of to-morrow’s battle, comes
    Hither to-night to bid me lift the spirit
    Of Samuel out of the dead and learn
    The issue?

ADAH

               Doeg said it.

MIRIAM

                             And--you hear?--
    Many within the army urge for David,
    Would cry him king, if Saul were slain?

ADAH

                                            O many.

            [_A knock at the gate. They start up fearful._]

MIRIAM

    Who seeks blind Miriam of Endor’s roof,
    Under the night and unextinguished storm?
    Come you a friend?

DAVID [_Without._]
                        A friend.

MIRIAM

                                 As knows my soul!

        [_Breathless she opens the gate._ DAVID _and_ ABIATHAR
                           _enter cloaked_.]

    Thy voice again!--this blindness of my eyes--
    If it be David, speak.

DAVID

                           Yes, Miriam.

MIRIAM

    David of Jesse, Israel’s desire!
    Let me behold thee [_Her hands go over him._] with my fingers’ sight,
    And gather in them touch of thee again!
    Thy voice is as dream-dulcimers that stir
    Quivering myrrh of memory and joy--
    But, aie! why are you here? You have been _there_?

DAVID

    Yes--in the camp of Saul.

MIRIAM

                              In spite of death!
    Do you not know----?

DAVID

                         I know--that Saul would rather
    O’ertrample me than a multitude of foes.
    That it is told him I who shun his ire--
    Though death were easier, if dutiful--
    Am come up with the Philistines to win
    The kingdom. That he would slay me though I fought
    For Israel!--But, Michal!----

MIRIAM

                                  Aie----

DAVID

                                          What brews?
    She was not in the camp.

MIRIAM

                             Men all are mad!
    And you who should be never.

DAVID

                                 She is in
    Some peril.

MIRIAM

                You, in more! And must from here
    Swiftly away, for Saul is----

DAVID

                                  I must see her.

MIRIAM

    Unholy!

DAVID

            Yet unholier were flight.

MIRIAM

    You are the anointed!
    [_A heavy knock at the gate._] Ah, calamity!
    You would not heed--’tis Saul!

DAVID

                                   Here?

MIRIAM

                                         He is come
    That I shall call up Samuel.

DAVID

                                 You, you--
    The awful dead?

SAUL

    [_Calls._]      Woman of Endor!

MIRIAM

                                    Hide!
    The lattice yonder!

SAUL

                        Woman of Endor! woman!

    [DAVID _and_ ABIATHAR _conceal themselves behind the lattice_.
                       _The knocking, hastier._]

    Woman of Endor! Woman of Endor! Woman!

MIRIAM

    Who crieth at my gate?

SAUL

                           Unbar and learn.

MIRIAM

    To danger?

SAUL

               None.

MIRIAM

                     To thieves?

SAUL

                                 To rueing if
    You tarry!

        [_She opens the gate._ ADAH _cowers down_. SAUL, ISHUI,
                        _and_ ADRIEL _enter_.]

MIRIAM

               Whom seek you?

SAUL

                              Witch of Endor, you,
    Who of the fate-revealing dead divine.
    Out of the Pit you call them!

MIRIAM

                                  What is this?

SAUL

    I say that you can lift them!

MIRIAM

                                  You are come
    With snaring! knowing well that Saul the king
    Is woe and bitterness to all who move
    With incantation.

SAUL

                      He is not.

MIRIAM

                                 Depart!

SAUL

    I must have up out of the Awfulness
    Him I would question.

MIRIAM

                          Perilous!

SAUL

                                    Prepare
    Before thy teraphim. No harm, I swear,
    Shall come of it. Bid Samuel appear.
    The battle! its event!

MIRIAM

    [_With a cry._]        I know thee now!
    Saul! thou art Saul! the Terror!

SAUL

                                     Call him up.
    Ready is it, the battle--but I am
    Forsaken of all prophecy and dream,
    Of voices and of priest and oracle,
    To augur it.

MIRIAM

                 A doom in this!

SAUL

                                 He must
    Hold comfort, and the torrent of despair
    Within me stay and hush.

MIRIAM

                             Then must it be.

    [_Turning towards the teraphim amid wind and pallid lightning,
                 and prostrating herself before it._]

    Prophet of Israel, who art beyond
    The troubling and the terrifying grave,
    Th’ immeasurable moan and melancholy
    Of ways that win to Sheol--Rise! Arise!

    [_She waits. Only the gust. Then springing up and
    stretching wide her arms with wild, blind eyes._]

    Prophet of Israel, arise! Not in
    The name of Baal, Amon, Ashtoreth,
    Dagon or all the deities that dream
    In trembling temples of Idolatry,
    But of Jehovah! of Jehovah! rise!

         [_An elemental cry is heard. Then vast wavering forms
         rise out of the earth, in continuous stream._ MIRIAM,
      _with a long curdling shriek, sinks moaning to her knees_.]

SAUL

    Woman, I cannot--dare not--look upon it.
    Utter thy sight.

       [_The spirit of_ SAMUEL _begins to take shape through the
                              phantoms_.]

MIRIAM

                     I saw ascending
    Forms as of gods in swaying ghostliness,
    Dim apparitions of a dismal might,
    And now is one within a mantle clad,
    Who looketh----

SAUL

                    Samuel!

MIRIAM

                            Who looketh with
    Omniscience in his mien, and all the chill
    And cling about him of eternity.
    His eyes impale me!

SAUL

                        Spirit, give me word!

                  [_He falls heavily to the ground._]

SAMUEL

    [_As afar._] O evil king! and wretched king! why hast
    Thou brought me from the quietness and rest.

SAUL

    The battle on the morrow----!

SAMUEL

                                  Evil thou art
    For underneath this night thou hast conspired
    Death to thy daughter Michal--if at dawn
    The battle shall be lost--lest she may fall
    Into the hands of David----

DAVID [_In horror._]
                                O!

ISHUI

                                   Whose cry?

SAMUEL

    I tell thee, Saul, thy sceptre shrivels fast.
    The battle shall be lost--it shall be lost.

       [_The spirit of_ SAMUEL _disappears_. _A wail of wind._]

ADRIEL

    Ishui, true? Is Michal to be slain?

ISHUI

    This is no hour for fools and questioning.

SAUL

    [_Struggling up._] The battle, Ishui, at once command
    It shall begin! To Jonathan and say it.

                            [ISHUI _goes_.]

    No prophecy shall sink me and no shade.
    I am the king, and Israel, my own.

                   [_Frenzied he goes. A silence._]

DAVID

    [_Breaking forth._] Michal to die and Israel to fall!
    Prophet of prophets, Samuel, return!

                           [ADRIEL _goes_.]

                                         The quivering
    Quicksands of destiny beneath her stir.
    Is heaven a mocking shield which ever keeps
    God from our prayers?

MIRIAM

                          David, contain thy heart.

               [_A faint uproar begins afar; and dawn._]

DAVID

    The battle! on the wind. Abiathar,
    Speed out upon the mountain-side and cull
    All that befalls.

               [ADAH _opens the gate_. ABIATHAR _goes_.]

ADAH

    [_Springing back._] Oh!

DAVID

                           Child, why do you quail?

ADAH

    My mistress, Merab!

DAVID

                        Girl?

ADAH

                              I saw her--she
    Is coming hither! Do not let her--she
    I fear--I fear her!

DAVID

                        Hither coming?

              [MERAB _throws open the gate and enters_.]

ADAH

                                       Oh!

MERAB

    Woman and witch, did Adriel, my husband,
    Come to you with the king?

                   [_She sees_ DAVID _and shrinks_.]

DAVID

                               Unnatural,
    Unkind, most cruel sister!

MERAB

                               You are here?

DAVID

    Once me you would have poisoned, but the coil
    Within your bosom I beheld. And now
    Michal your sister is the victim.

MERAB

                                      I--
    Know not your meaning.

DAVID

                           The battle burning yonder,
    If it adversely veers, the king has planned
    Michal is not to live, lest she may hap
    Unto my arms.

MERAB

                  That Michal shall be slain?

                         [_The tumult again._]

DAVID

    Almighty, smite, and save to thee thy people!
    And save thy altars unto Israel.

            [_He bows his head. A stir comes at the gate._]

MERAB

    David, ’tis Adriel!

ADRIEL

                        Ope! open you!

DAVID

    At last the word.

MERAB

                      Girl, Adah, draw the bar.

         [DAVID _throws a cloak over his face_. ADAH _obeys_.
        ADRIEL _enters, and_ DOEG, _who pauses in quick alarm,
              as_ DAVID _goes between him and the gate_.]

DOEG

    What place is this? Why do you bar that gate?
    Merab, ’tis you? Why do you gaze, rigid?
    And this is the blind witch, Miriam?

DAVID

                                         It is.

                     [_He throws off his cloak._]

DOEG

    Lured? I am snared? a trap?

DAVID

                                Where have you Michal?

DOEG

    [_Drawing._] No closer!

DAVID

                            If she is an atom harmed----!
    Where is she?

DOEG

                  I was the servant of the king,
    I but obeyed him.

DAVID

                      And thy horrible heart.
    Then speak, or unto frenzy I am driven.

DOEG

    I’ll drive you there with----

                    [_Breaks off with low laugh._]

DAVID

                                  Tell it!

DOEG

                                           Unto your
    Soft sympathy--and passion? [_Laughs._] She is dead.

DAVID

                    [_Immovable, then repressed._]

    If it is so, the lightning, that is wrath
    Within the veins of God, should sink its fang
    Into thy bosom and sear out thy heart.
    If it is so, this momentary calm,
    This silence pouring overfull the world,
    Would rush and in thee cry until thy bones
    Broken of guilt are crumbled in thy groans.
    Dead, she is dead?

MIRIAM

                       No, David, my lord, he lies!

                     [_Strangely, as in a trance._]

    To wound you, lies!

DAVID

                        Not dead?

MIRIAM

                                  I see her eyes!

                        [_All listen amazed._]

    I see her in a vision. She is near--
    Is in a cave--is bound--and is alone.
    I will go to her--quickly bring her.

DOEG

                                         Not

                          [_Lunges at her._]

    If this shall reach you.

DAVID

                             Ah, to pierce a woman!

                     [MIRIAM _finds her way out_.]

    You’ve plotted, false have been and bloody, foul,
    And as a pestilence of midnight marsh
    Have oozed corruption into all around you.
    The kingdom thro’ you is in brokenness,
    Within its arteries you flow, poison,
    Incentive of irruption and unrest,
    Of treachery and disaffection’s sore,
    Till even the stars of truest ray seem tares
    Sown hostile o’er the nightly vale of heaven.

    [_Drawing firmly, he coldly, skilfully approaches for attack._]

DOEG

    [_Retreating._] No further!

DAVID

                                      Unto the end!

    [_He rushes in, they engage._ DOEG _is wounded, recovers,
    defends furiously, then is disarmed and forced under_.]

    Thy villainy is done.

             [_The gate opens and_ ABIATHAR _hurries in_.]

ABIATHAR

                          David, the battle----

                     [_He sees_ DOEG _and stops_.]

DAVID

    Fetter him.

ABIATHAR

                Only fetter? [_His dagger out._] The murderer
    Of priestly sanctity and of my father?

DAVID

    Abiathar! You know obedience?

       [ABIATHAR _sullenly sheathes his weapon and binds_ DOEG.
          _A dim panic is heard afar, and a lament without._
        DAVID, _who has sunk to a seat, springs anxiously up_.]

    Listen! that cry!

THE VOICE

                      Woe! woe!

DAVID

                                What is its wail?

THE VOICE

    The battle’s lost!

DAVID

                       Abiathar----?

THE VOICE

                                     Saul flees!

DAVID

    Abiathar, is lost?

ABIATHAR

                       I fear it.

DAVID

                                  Then [_Pointing to_ DOEG.]
    Off with his armor for me, I will go
    Forth and perchance may backward bend defeat.
    Duty to Saul is over.

ADRIEL

                          You must not.
    A fruitless intrepidity it were.

ABIATHAR

    Remember your anointing!

ADRIEL

                             The prophesy!

       [MIRIAM _enters leading_ MICHAL. _A moment’s suspense._]

MERAB

    See!

ADRIEL

         See!

MERAB

              She liveth!

MIRIAM

                          David----

MICHAL [_Pleading to him._]

                                     It is I.

MIRIAM

    The cords were cruel, hungrily sank in
    Her wrists and ankles.

MICHAL

                           David, look on me.

DAVID

    My words must be alone with her--alone.

ADRIEL

    Come, all of you--the battle.

         [_They go out the gate._ DAVID _stands speechless_.]

MICHAL

                                  David--my lord!
    I ask not anything but to be heard--
    Though once I would not hear. Has all of life
    No glow for me!

DAVID

                    Betrayers should have none.

MICHAL

    I was a woman--the entanglement
    Of duty amid love we have no skill
    To loosen, but with passion.

DAVID

                                 You too late
    Remember it is so.

MICHAL

                       Nobility
    All unbelievable it seemed that you
    Could innocently watt on time to tide
    You to the kingdom. Then forgive, I plead.

DAVID

    But in the wilderness, your perfidy!

MICHAL

    Doubt of it welleth thro’ your voice. No, no,
    To save you strove I----!

DAVID

                              Michal?

MICHAL

                                      Not to betray!
    From Saul, my father, penitent I fled,
    Seeking you in Engeddi’s wild.

DAVID

                                   And Phalti?

MICHAL

    ’Twas wedding him I loathed.

DAVID

                                 Say true!

MICHAL

                                           This knife
    Unfailingly into my breast had spared
    Me from him, had not flight.

DAVID

                                 This--this can be?

                    [_A great joy dawning in him._]

    Beyond all hope is it, even as day’s
    Wide empery outspans our littleness.

                         [_Goes toward her._]

    A tithing of thy loveliness were beauty
    Enough for earth. Yet it is mine, is mine?

MICHAL

    David--forever! long as odorous
    Cooling o’er Lebanon shall blow, long as
    The swinging sapphire of the sea shall flash
    Up to the sun: until the soul no more
    Is soul, but vapor!

DAVID

                        Michal!

MICHAL

                                Evermore!

     [_She sinks into his arms, and there is a pause. But a sudden
     confusion of cries is heard and they start apart. The gate is
    flung back and_ ADRIEL _enters, shaken with awe. He looks from
                      one to the other, silent_.]

DAVID [_At last._]
                                          Adriel!
    What have you!

ADRIEL

                   Saul … is slain!

MICHAL

                                      My father?

ADRIEL

                                                 Slain!
    And Jonathan----

DAVID

                     No!

ADRIEL

                         Fell beside him down.
    The fray was fast--Israel fled--the foe
    Fierce after Saul, whom Jonathan defended.

MICHAL

    My father!

DAVID

               And my brother Jonathan!
    If I believe it will not miracle
    Alone bring joy again unto my pain?

           [_The wailing again without, and deeper groans._]

    O Israel, the Infinite has touched
    Thy glory and it changes to a shroud!
    Thy splendor is as vintage overspilt.
    For Saul upon the mountains low is lying,
    And Jonathan beside him, beautiful
    Beyond the mar of battle, and of death.

                    [_He bows his head in tears._]

    O kingly Jonathan, would I might give
    The beating of my life into your veins--
    Willing for it would I be drouth and die.
    How are the mighty fallen and the fair!

                  [_With lifted arm, deeply moved._]

    Peaks, mountains of Gilboa, let no more
    Dew be upon you, and as sackcloth let
    Clouds cover you, and ashes be your soil,
    Until I bring upon Philistia
    And Gath and Askalon extinguishing,
    And sorrow--and immensity of tears!

       [MICHAL _goes to him and takes his hand. He folds her in
                              his arms._]

    But we must calm the flowing of this grief.
    Though yet we cannot mind us to remember
    Love will as sandal-breath and trickling balm
    O’erheal us in the unbegotten years,
    Too headlong must not be our agony.
    Hush now thy woundedness, my Michal, now.
    See, o’er the East the lifted wings of dawn.

     [_Slowly they climb the stair to the house-top. At they look
        away toward the battle’s rout the clouds part, and the
            full brightness of the sun breaks over them._]

                             [_CURTAIN._]





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