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Title: A King's Daughter - A Tragedy in Verse
Author: Masefield, John
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A King's Daughter - A Tragedy in Verse" ***

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A KING’S DAUGHTER



BY THE SAME AUTHOR

_Uniform with this Volume_


  REYNARD THE FOX: A POEM
  RIGHT ROYAL: A POEM
  ENSLAVED, AND OTHER POEMS
  KING COLE, AND OTHER POEMS
  THE DAFFODIL FIELDS: A POEM
  DAUBER: A POEM
  GOOD FRIDAY: A PLAY IN VERSE
  THE FAITHFUL: A PLAY
  LOLLINGDON DOWNS, AND OTHER POEMS
  MELLONEY HOLTSPUR: A PLAY
  PHILIP THE KING, AND OTHER POEMS
  A POEM AND TWO PLAYS


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN LTD.



  A KING’S DAUGHTER

  A TRAGEDY IN VERSE


  BY
  JOHN MASEFIELD


  [Illustration]


  LONDON
  WILLIAM HEINEMANN LTD.



  PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY
  BIDLING AND SONS, LTD., GUILDFORD AND ESHER



  TO
  MY WIFE



This play was performed at the Oxford Playhouse on Friday and Saturday,
May 25 and 26, 1923, by the following cast of the Hill Players:

  JEZEBEL (Queen of Samaria)          PENELOPE WHEELER.
  ROSE-FLOWER (First Chorus)          JUDITH MASEFIELD.
  MOON-BLOSSOM (Second Chorus)        JEAN DOWNS.
  HAMUTAL (the Steward’s Wife)        PAULISE DE BUSH.
  A PROPHET                           BASIL MAINE.
  JEHU (Captain of the Horse)         RONALD HAY.
  MICAIAH (a Seer)                    GEORGE G. EDWARDS.
  AHAB (King of Samaria)              LESLIE DAVEY.
  PHARMAS (Court Attendant)           WILFRED MESSENGER.
  ASHOBAL (Court Attendant)           HENRY CHAPIN.
  NABOTH (a Farmer)                   DUDLEY BARLOW.
  AHAZIAH (Crown Prince of Samaria)   W. E. MAY.
  JORAM (his Younger Brother)         WILFRED HOWE-NURSE.
  ZAKKUR (Jehu’s Messenger)           H. G. WAKEFORD.
  PASHUR (the Bringer of the News)    C. E. J. VINCENT.
  ZIKRI (Spearman)                    F. J. SAUNDERS.
  KALLAI (Spearman)                   BERNARD GRIFFITHS.

SCENE: The Palace in Samaria.



A KING’S DAUGHTER



FIRST ACT.


 JEZEBEL.

 I am Queen Jezebel, King Ahab’s wife.
 I was princess in Sidon long ago,
 But in an evil day I became Queen
 Over these strangers in Samaria.

 Here, for these last ten months, we fought the Syrians,
 Till hope was gone; then, suddenly, all changed;
 The Syrian army fell into our hands.

 King Ahab had two choices: one, to kill
 All of the Syrians; one, to let them go.
 He made a peace with them and let them go.

 Now all the people of this city rage
 At Ahab, for his peace, and cry aloud
 That I, the foreign queen with foreign gods,
 Made Ahab make the peace to please my friends.

 Four days ago, King Ahab sought to buy
 A vineyard from one Naboth, who refused
 To sell the vineyard, even to his King.

 To-day the rebels of the town prepare
 A feast to Naboth for refusing him,
 And at the feast the prophets and seditious
 Will urge our murder as a godly deed.

 What is King Ahab doing to defeat them?
 Nothing. For these three days he has been hidden,
 Brooding upon his bed in bitterness;
 Refusing food and drink; refusing speech
 With me, his wife; neglecting court and state;
 Letting rebellion grow, and seeing no man
 Except our younger son, evil Prince Joram,
 Who longs for war against the Syrians.

 So I, the Queen, not knowing what may come
 When the King sickens and the people rage,
 Have sent for help, called home our eldest son,
 Prince Ahaziah, from his frontier post
 With all his horsemen. He should soon be here.

 With Ahaziah and his horsemen here
 We shall be safer from our enemies,
 The Teshbon prophet and the soldier Jehu,
 The captain of the horse under the King.

        *       *       *       *       *

 Those are the enemies whom most I dread,
 Lord Jehu and the Prophet, hand and mouth
 To violence and unwise ways of life,
 Violent and brainless both, as lightning is.
 When violence and madness are in league,
 Destruction comes.

                    And they are coming now,
 Here to the palace of the King and Queen,
 To plot their evil with our followers.

 I will go hence, to pray that Ahaziah
 May come in time to thwart their wickedness.
                                                                 [_Exit_

_Enter the_ PROPHET.

 PROPHET.

 Lord Jehu!

_Enter_ JEHU.

 JEHU.

            Ha, my Prophet!

 PROPHET.

                            Is all well?

 JEHU.

 Yes. All goes well. This King, this imbecile,
 This Ahab, still is sulking like a child,
 Speaking with no one, making all things easy
 For us, my Prophet, who will now succeed.
 Nothing can stop us now. All works for us.
 Ahab is hated; Jezebel detested;
 The army sickened at their loss of plunder,
 All hot against them both. Our only danger
 Their son, Prince Ahaziah, far away,
 Their other son, Prince Joram, working for us.
 And now this feast to Naboth as a crown
 To all these helps, an opportunity.

 PROPHET.

 Truly our work is godly, since it prospers.
 Since all is thriving, it is surely time
 That we set forth together to this feast.

 JEHU.

 Wait, yet, my Prophet, while I ask you this:
 What objects will be served by this our feast?

 PROPHET.

 Why, it will honour Naboth for resisting
 The tyrant whom we hate, and give our friends
 A chance to come together with Prince Joram
 To cry aloud for war with Syria.

 JEHU.

 True, Prophet; “Honour Naboth; cry for war;”
 Such were our objects when we planned the feast:
 That was the plan, but, friend, it is not now.
 No, Prophet, no; for I have changed my mind.
 This feast to Naboth which we have prepared
 Must be the prelude to a mightier deed.
 Prophet, I know thy zeal for true religion,
 And you know mine; now, therefore, stand by me.
 I am determined to be King this day.
 The chances are all for me, and the feast
 Puts them within my hand for me to take.
 Now, therefore, Prophet, when you see me there,
 Sitting at feast among the men-of-war,
 Send out some youngling of the Prophet tribe
 There to anoint me King in Ahab’s stead.
 Then I will rise and lead those men-at-arms
 To end this Ahab and his Jezebel,
 And stamp them with our horses’ feet, and bring
 A true religion back: by God, we need it.
 No. Doubt not the success. Anoint me King,
 The men will follow. For, by God, now, Prophet,
 Look at my eyes, I mean this to succeed.
 This is the way, because all other ways,
 The way we planned before and any way,
 Must end in this; so send the stripling to me.
 Make me the King.

 PROPHET.

 Truly a spirit speaks within you, Jehu.
 Truly the devilries of Jezebel
 Have brimmed the cup, and Ahab’s treachery
 Has spilled it over. You shall be the King.
 Here with my blood I do anoint you King.
 My young man shall anoint you with the oil,
 But will the captains follow you as King?

 JEHU.

 They’ll follow; some for plunder, some for fear.
 Now let us to this Naboth’s feast, to raise
 Our following against this doting King.

 PROPHET.

 Here is our friend Ashobal with some news.

_Enter_ ASHOBAL.

 ASHOBAL.

 I was afraid that you had gone, Lord Jehu.
 Prophet, Lord Jehu, there is danger here.
 I have just heard from Jezebel’s own lips
 That she has ordered Ahaziah hither
 With all his horse, and that he will be here
 Within two hours.

 PROPHET.

                   Gods!

 JEHU.

                         Did Jezebel
 Tell you of this?

 ASHOBAL.

                   No; I was hidden, and
 I overheard her as she told her women.

 PROPHET.

 She sent for them?

 ASHOBAL.

                    She said so.

 PROPHET.

                                 But for what?
 To be a bodyguard?

 ASHOBAL.

                    She did not say,
 But that is what they will be when they come.

 PROPHET.

 Then she suspects us.

 PROPHET.

                       Probably.

 JEHU.

                                 The hag!

 PROPHET.

 These women of false gods shall die the death.

 JEHU.

 Yes, unless we die first. Thank you, Ashobal,
 You bring the message in the nick of time.
 Why has she sent for them? Is Ahab dying?
 No; he is ill, not dying. By the gods,
 The harlot may be plotting against Ahab
 To crown her son?
 No, by the gods, put by these pleasant dreams,
 The likelier thing will be the explanation.
 One of the little sheep within our fold
 Has bleated to the shepherd: we have been
 Betrayed, my Prophet and my sweet Ashobal,
 Betrayed.... By whom?
 By all the gods, this harlot is a man.
 She hears of us, at once decides to strike,
 Sends for the cavalry to cut our throats,
 Calls Ahaziah to be King until
 Her Ahab be a man again, and so
 Bids for her husband’s crown. There are the facts.

 ASHOBAL.

 Even so I judged it, from the way she spoke.

 PROPHET.

 Then we had better scatter into hiding,
 For we are lost.

 JEHU.

 True, brother Prophet, all our heads are loose,
 But yet not lost.

 PROPHET.

                   But what are we to do?

 JEHU.

 Stop Ahaziah in his coming here.
 It can be done if he be two hours hence.
 He must be coming by the desert road
 Passing by Springs. Well, he shall meet his match.
 Go, Prophet, to the feasting, as we planned.
 Praise Naboth and be bitterer than spurge
 About this peace. Pharmas must know of this.
 Find Pharmas, that the Prophet speak with him.
 Then tell what friends you can. Remember, Prophet,
 Hold to our former plans till I return.
 Now I must go.                                            [_Exit_ JEHU.

 PROPHET.

                And we had better go
 Straight into hiding, while we have the time.

 ASHOBAL.

 No, we must keep to what is planned and do
 What Jehu tells us.

 PROPHET.

 I must see Pharmas, then; find Pharmas for me.

 ASHOBAL.

 I cannot yet.
 Pharmas is in attendance on the Queen.

 PROPHET.

 Why should he be with her, to-day of all days?
 He is the King’s attendant, not the Queen’s.

 ASHOBAL.

 True, but the Queen commanded him this morning
 To write at her dictation; he will be
 There until noon; but it is nearly noon.

 PROPHET.

 We are discovered by this Jezebel.
 And Pharmas has betrayed us.

 ASHOBAL.

 No, he is faithful to us. Five years since
 This Jezebel once chided him in public
 For breaking of a cup. He has remembered;
 He swore to be revenged and means to be.
 Now I say this: Come on the stroke of noon,
 Here, to have speech with Pharmas and myself.
 We may have news by then. If the worst happen,
 We shall have time enough for flight at noon.

 PROPHET.

 You may be right; pray Heaven that you be.

 ASHOBAL.

 Hark! there is someone coming through the court.
 By Heaven!

 PROPHET.

            Why, who is it? What has happened?

 ASHOBAL.

 It is the King, recovered from his brooding
 And dressed as for an audience with his peers.
 If Ahab be in health again, why, death----

 PROPHET.

 What shall we do? Oh, say!

 ASHOBAL.

                            Be not found here.
 He’s coming hither with his man, Micaiah.
 Go quickly, quickly.                                   [_Exit_ PROPHET.

_Enter_ MICAIAH.

 MICAIAH.

 Way for their Majesties! It is commanded
 That all avoid. Way for their Majesties!
 Avoid the room, Ashobal, for the King.
                                                        [_Exit_ ASHOBAL.

_Enter_ AHAB.

 AHAB.

 Micaiah, put my staff into my hands.
 Go, now, desire the Queen to give me audience.
                                                        [_Exit_ MICAIAH.

 Thus does the climber on a pinnacle.
 He stands exhausted on the peak and feels
 Nothing beneath him but the mist of cloud
 Hiding the precipice. I have my foothold;
 Around me, the sheer fall into the pit.

_Enter_ JEZEBEL.

 JEZEBEL.

 So, my good lord, at last I look upon you
 After these days of anguish. O my lord,
 What has afflicted you, that you should shut
 Your doors upon me, send no word to me,
 No word till now, not even let me know
 If you were ill or well?
                          But no upbraiding.
 Tell me what is the trouble of your soul?

 AHAB.

 What do you think?

 JEZEBEL.

                    I know not what to think,
 Living alone, shut from you, that should tell me.
 Men say that you are grieved because a farmer,
 One Naboth, would not sell his vineyard to you.

 AHAB.

 I, grieved, at that?

 JEZEBEL.

                      I have no guide save rumour.

 AHAB.

 His vineyard? Why, I did not want the vineyard.

 JEZEBEL.

 Not want it, lord?

 AHAB.

                    Why should I want it; think?

 JEZEBEL.

 I cannot think, indeed, why you should want it.

 AHAB.

 Jehu was wanting it, to bring it in
 Within the city wall, for in the siege
 The Syrian archers shot our people from it.
 Jehu demanded it.

 JEZEBEL.

                   Jehu? Not you?
 Yet do you know that men are cursing you
 For wanting Naboth’s land; and feasting Naboth
 To-day, in public, for refusing you?
 And that our crowns and even our lives are threatened?

 AHAB.

 No, Queen, I do not know and cannot care.
 What is the raging of the fools to me
 Who ponder day and night upon a question,
 A question that goes down into the bone
 And burns like fire, till I cannot sleep
 Or eat or work, for it is always here.
 No, do not look like that, I am not mad,
 Not yet; I am not mad. But always night and day
 This question is about me and within me,
 Haunting and harsh: the question, “Am I wrong?
 Are these, my people who oppose my will,
 Right, after all, righter than I, the King?
 Righter throughout my twenty years of kingship?”

 JEZEBEL.

 How can these preys to every passionate flaw
 Be righter than an upright mind and conscience?

 AHAB.

 I cannot tell, and yet I think they are.

 JEZEBEL.

 You know they are not.

 AHAB.

                        No, I do not know.
 I wonder, if the blunt and bawdy world
 Be not the worse for wisdom, not the better.

 JEZEBEL.

 It is a sin and cowardice to say so.

 AHAB.

 Is it, my Queen? I wonder if it be.
 Here have I striven twenty years, for peace
 With Syria, and for liberty of thought
 Within our borders, yet with what results?
 Almost continual war with Syria.
 Almost a civil war within this land.
 Such being the fruits, I think the seeds were wrong.

 JEZEBEL.

 The seeds were right, and if the fruit has failed,
 Blame the bad soil, the bitter weather, drought,
 Evil of many men hacking the plant,
 All things, but you who planted, and the seed.

 AHAB.

 Even if the seed were right, the ground was wrong.
 And then I sowed it out of season, lady.
 I could have smitten Syria to the dust,
 Yet granted terms. I risked a civil war
 To grant the terms. They do not keep the terms.
 And these my people prefer blood to quiet.
 And now I doubt the usefulness of wisdom,
 Doubt my whole life; and wonder, if the prophets,
 The people, and the bloody ways they love,
 Be not indeed God’s ways for governing.
 If these things be, then I have failed my country.

 JEZEBEL.

 O King, you cannot say that things are wrong
 Because they fail. All good things seem to fail;
 The road that men make is not straight nor smooth,
 Nor like the perfect roadway that they planned;
 And yet among the thorns and broken flint,
 And twistings where the adder lies in wait,
 It is a path where no path was before.
 So with your Syrian pact and with these people,
 You have hewed out a way where men will tread.
 Be comforted and proud, for you have done it,
 As the lone artist makes the perfect thing,
 With every blind malignant saying “No!”
 You have made peace as generous as yourself
 And thought as free. So let the madman rave
 And let the savage shriek for blood, and let
 The blind worm of the many-creeping world
 Crawl its obstruction, you have conquered them.

 AHAB.

 It is not true. I have not conquered them.
 They conquer me. I am defeated. Yes,
 I cannot think, or master, or decide,
 Having no longer any faith remaining
 In what we planned together and have done.
 The ground is gone from under me, the light
 Is gone from in me, and the sky above
 Is black with punishment that threatens me.
 These ruffian prophets have been proven right,
 Our policies have been accursed; ay,
 And the reward is death.

 JEZEBEL.

                          O husband, stay!

 AHAB.

 I will not stay. The penalty is death,
 With hell to follow, as the blind man’s payment
 Fully deserved.                                           [_Exit_ AHAB.

 JEZEBEL.

 Gods save us, he is mad, or over-wrought
 Up to the point of madness; now, indeed,
 We have been conquered, for we have no King
 Save one distraught with trouble. How am I
 To help in this?
 So ends my queenship with him. It is well
 That I have called Prince Ahaziah home.
 But, till he come, I govern, I am King,
 And one act of a King must now be done:
 This rebels’ feast to Naboth must be stopped.
                      (_She claps her hands for_ MICAIAH, _who enters_.)
 Micaiah, is there dust upon the road
 To show the Prince’s coming?

 MICAIAH.

                              Not yet, Madam.

 JEZEBEL.

 How soon can he be here?

 MICAIAH.

                          Within two hours.
 Unless he halt for noontide by the Springs.
 He might be here much sooner. Say, one hour.

 JEZEBEL.

 Who is the captain of the guard to-day?

 MICAIAH.

 Rechab, to-day, good lady.

 JEZEBEL.

                            Go, Micaiah,
 Tell Pharmas that I wait him in the throne room;
 Bid him bring ink and seals; bid him be quick
 Attend me there.

 MICAIAH.

                  Madam, I go.
                                                        [_Exit_ MICAIAH.

 JEZEBEL.

 Though the King sicken, it shall still be seen
 That I, the Syrian woman, am a queen.
                                                        [_Exit_ JEZEBEL.

_Enter_ PROPHET.

 PROPHET.

 Pharmas! Ashobal! Hark! Is Pharmas there?
 It is full noon, but Pharmas is not here,
 No, nor Ashobal. But there seems to be
 Less danger than I feared: I was not questioned,
 And men go unmolested to the feast.

_Enter_ ASHOBAL.

 Here is Ashobal. Where is Pharmas, friend?

 ASHOBAL.

 Gone to the Queen again, with ink and seals.
 There is this news: the King and Queen have talked
 And Ahab now is in his room again,
 Moodily sharpening his sword, and muttering.
 I myself think that Ahab has gone mad.

 PROPHET.

 No word from Jehu yet, of Ahaziah?

 ASHOBAL.

 None yet, nor will be for a while.

 PROPHET.

                                    King Jehu,
 Jehu, the King, God’s comet, bringing change.
 Come soon, come soon. Oh, what is Pharmas doing?

 ASHOBAL.

 He writes some pressing matter for the Queen.

 PROPHET.

 We shall be late. Come, Pharmas! Hurry, hurry!
 Would he were here and we away from this.
 We are like hunters in the lion’s den,
 Knowing the lion to be near.

 ASHOBAL.

                              I hear him.
 Yes; this is Pharmas coming. Here he is.

_Enter_ PHARMAS.

 PROPHET.

 Pharmas, we have been waiting for you; come.
 We must be going. Listen to your orders.
 During this feast go down among the guards ...

 PHARMAS.

 Do not you talk of feasting, nor of guards.
 The Queen has sent Micaiah with the guards
 To fetch poor Naboth here.

 ASHOBAL.

                            Why?

 PROPHET.

                                 What to do?

 PHARMAS.

 I do not know; but not for any good.
 “Fetch Naboth here before me,” was the order.
 It has gone off by this.

 ASHOBAL.

                          This is the end!

 PROPHET.

 What can she want with Naboth? Painted hag,
 Thus to command a man.

 ASHOBAL.

 Was the guard ordered to suppress the feast?

 PHARMAS.

 No, but it is suppressed with Naboth taken.

 ASHOBAL.

 We shall be taken next, so save yourself.

 PROPHET.

 I will be gone. You know my hiding-place,
 The old one near the wall; send word to me
 There, if you have a message.                                  [_Exit._

 MICAIAH.

 Way for Her Majesty the Queen, make way!

_Enter_ MICAIAH.

 Set forth the chair of audience for the Queen.
 Be reverent; the Queen approaches. Hail!

_Enter_ JEZEBEL.

 JEZEBEL.

 Micaiah, Pharmas, and Ashobal, stay.
 Within few moments, when the guards return,
 You will return to take your places here,
 Even as you stand this minute.

 THE MEN.

                                We will do so.

 JEZEBEL.

 All three of you; you understand?

 THE MEN.

                                   Yes, Madam.

 JEZEBEL.

 Dismiss then, till the guards appear.
                                                        [_The_ MEN _go_.

 I am the King, upon whose balance lies
 The nation’s need to prompt me to be wise.
 Ruin to all I cherish, if I fail.
 God, judge for me, thy wisdom turn the scale.


CURTAIN.


FIRST CHORUS

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 Once long ago young Nireus was the King
   In Syme Island, so the stories say,
   And at his birth the gods made holiday,
 And blessed the child and gave him each one thing,

 Courage, and skill, and beauty, and bright eyes,
   Wisdom, and charm, and many another power,
   So that he grew to manhood like a flower
 For beauty, and like God for being wise.

 Now Nireus’ friend was Paris, out of Troy,
   Paris, the prince, the archer, who had seen
   The goddesses within the forest green;
 King Priam’s son, a peacock of a boy.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 At Sparta’s court, not far from Syme Isle,
   Bright Helen lived, King Menelaus’ Queen,
   The loveliest woman that has ever been,
 Who made all mortals love her by her smile.

 Nireus and Paris went together there
   To Helen’s palace: and when Nireus saw
   Helen the Queen, the lovely without flaw,
 He loved her like her shadow everywhere.

 And Paris, when he saw her with her mate,
   Helen, the rose, beside that withered weed,
   Loved her no less, but with a young man’s greed
 That wants the moon from heaven and cannot wait.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 Straightway he wooed Queen Helen to be his,
   And won her love, and cried to Nireus then,
   “O Nireus, help to save us from this den,
 Lend us your ship to bring us out of this.”

 So Nireus, though his heart was torn with pain,
   Well knowing what would come, yet took the pair
   To many-towered Troy and left them there,
 To live in love and be the city’s bane.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 When Menelaus knew of Helen’s flight,
   He led all Greece in arms to punish Troy,
   Nireus went with him in the fleet, and joy
 Ceased in the world, for all men went to fight.

 Nine years they fought there in the tamarisk field,
   And in the tenth, in some blind midnight stour,
   Nireus killed Paris underneath the tower.
 Men bore him back to Helen on his shield.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 Then Troy was sacked and Menelaus took
   Beautiful Helen as his prisoner home,
   And locked her in his castle as a gnome
 Might lock a gem on which no man might look.

 TOGETHER.

 Thus Nireus lost his love, and killed his friend,
   And knew despair; so going to his ship,
   He sailed to where the constellations dip,
 In the great west, to look for the world’s end.


SECOND CHORUS

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 When Troy was sacked and all her towers
   Blazed up and shook into the sky,
 Smoke like great trees and flame like flowers,
   And Priam’s bodyguard did die,

 Then the Queen’s women snatched up spears,
   And fought their way out of the gate;
 Seized horses from the charioteers
   And fled like mountain-streams in spate.

 They would not stay for slavery
   To some Greek lord until they died,
 They rode the forest to be free,
   Up on the peaks of snowy Ide.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 And in the forest on a peak
   They hewed a dwelling with the bronze,
 And lived, unconquered by the Greek,
 Fierce, sun-burned women, neither tame nor weak,
   The panther-women called the Amazons.

 They lived there on the heights and knew no men.
   Having beheld the lusts of men destroy
   The town of windy Troy,
   They killed all men they met; their only joy
 Was hunting for the wild beasts in the glen.

 TOGETHER.

 The wild boar and the many-branching stag,
   Horse-killing panthers hidden by the brook,
 The spotted death among the yellow flag,
   All these with their bright spears these women took.
 All these, and men, for even to be seen
 By men, these hunter-women thought unclean.

 So no man saw them save a glimpse afar.
   Of panther-skins flung back, and swift feet flying,
 And the red stag brought low to the fierce Ha!
   Of women’s spear-thrusts driven in the dying.
 They ruled the crags like wolves, they kept their pride
 Savage and sovereign like the snow on Ide.



SECOND ACT


MICAIAH.

Madam, the soldiers have brought the farmer, Naboth; they have him in
the guard-room, waiting for your orders.

JEZEBEL.

Were you set upon as you brought him through the city?

MICAIAH.

No, Madam, but a crowd followed, which is now at the palace gates.

JEZEBEL.

Is it threatening?

MICAIAH.

No, Madam, but uneasy.

JEZEBEL.

Thank you, Micaiah. What standing has this Naboth?

MICAIAH.

He lives in the city, but has this vineyard and some other ground
outside the walls. He is a small farmer, strict in religion. Nothing
but religion will move him.

JEZEBEL.

I will try whether that be true. Go now, without, and bring me Ashobal
and Pharmas.

 MICAIAH.

I will, Madam.                                                  [_Exit._

JEZEBEL.

If I can persuade this man to sell his land, then this gathering will
lose all purpose. If he will not sell, as I doubt he will not, then,
how then?

MICAIAH, PHARMAS, ASHOBAL _enter_.

 Stand where you are and pay especial heed
 To what is said by us.

 THE MEN.

                        We will, great Queen.

 JEZEBEL.

 I thank you. Will you bring the man, Micaiah?

_Enter MICAIAH, with NABOTH, crowned as for a feast._

 MICAIAH.

 Madam, your servant waits for your commands.

 JEZEBEL.

 Thank you, Micaiah. Keep in presence here.
 You are that Naboth of the South-west Precinct?
                                                        (NABOTH _nods_.)

 Our calling of you here may come untimely.
 You are at feast, or going to a feast?

 NABOTH.

 I’m here; you’ve caught me; do the worst you can,
 But do not mock me.

 JEZEBEL.

                     I mock no one, Naboth.
 I sent for you because I wished to speak
 About the purchase of your vineyard near
 The city wall.

 NABOTH.

 Why do you want my vineyard, tell me that?

 JEZEBEL.

 I do not want it.

 NABOTH.

                   Well, your husband does.

 JEZEBEL.

 He does not, Naboth. Listen, all of you.
 There is a false suspicion spread abroad
 That we, the King and Queen, have coveted
 This land of Naboth’s. It is wholly false.
 We do not want it, never wanted it,
 But bid for it, on public grounds, because
 Lord Jehu, captain of the bodyguard,
 The overseer of the town’s defences,
 Urged, and still urges, that the vineyard be
 Brought in within the city wall. As King,
 The King made offer for the land, through one ...
 Which of you was it?

 ASHOBAL.

                      I made the offer for His Majesty,
 So please you, Madam.

 JEZEBEL.

 Since it is not your rulers but your city
 That needs the land, we ask you to consider
 The giving up your holding to be walled.

 NABOTH.

 God pleased to put my vineyard where it is,
 Why should you change it?

 MICAIAH.

                           In the siege, good Naboth,
 The Syrian archers used to shoot from it
 Into the city.

 NABOTH.

                And they might again
 Soon in another siege?

 JEZEBEL.

                                      So Jehu thought.

 NABOTH.

 If you idolaters had done God’s will
 And killed these Syrians when God bade you kill,
 You would have had no other siege to dread.

 ASHOBAL.

 You must not speak this evil of your rulers.
 Say nothing but as touching on the treaty.

 JEZEBEL.

 Whether your land should be enclosed or no
 I cannot tell: Duke Jehu says it should be;
 Says that for public good it should be walled.
 You would not sorrow that your land should go
 For greater safety of your fellow townsmen?

 NABOTH.

 I would.

 JEZEBEL.

          I do not think you would, good sir;
 Yet, if a war should follow and a siege
 Threaten again, your vineyard would be taken
 Maugre your will, and walled in spite of you
 By public means; and you would lose it, so.

 NABOTH.

 I would not lose it. It would still be mine.

 JEZEBEL.

 I cannot well see how; but let that be.
 I ask you now to be content to treat
 For this your plot. May we proceed in this?

 NABOTH.

 Dismiss your gang of killers here, these three
 Lying in wait upon a poor man’s words.

 JEZEBEL.

 These are no killers, but my palace servants.
 We are in treaty for exchange of land,
 Or hope to be, and civil law prescribes
 That sales of land be bargained before witness.

 NABOTH.

 Where are my witnesses, to speak for me?

 JEZEBEL.

 Well thought of, Naboth. Will you therefore send
 To three, your friends, to witness to your words?

 NABOTH.

 No, I will not.

 JEZEBEL.

                 Why not?

 NABOTH.

                          No matter why.
 You have caught me, but catch my friends yourself
 If you do want them.

 JEZEBEL.

                      Will you choose three men
 Here in the palace, then, as witnesses?

 NABOTH.

 I have a witness, stronger than your three,
 Already present, woman of false gods.

 ASHOBAL.

 Do not misname the person of your Queen.
 You will lose all by rudeness. You have heard
 That our great Queen demands to bargain with you,
 But means no harm to you, nor to your friends.

 JEZEBEL.

 Thank you, Ashobal. (_Then to_ NABOTH)
                     May we now proceed?

 NABOTH.

 I have not yet agreed to treat with you.

 JEZEBEL.

 You waste our time. Speak. Will you treat or not?

 NABOTH.

 Before I treat, what do you offer for it?

 JEZEBEL.

 What is its yearly value?

 ASHOBAL.

                           Seven casks.

 MICAIAH.

 Madam, that may have been the yearly yield
 In its best seasons, but it is not now.
 It is no vineyard now, great Queen; the vines
 Were routed up by Syrians in the siege.

 JEZEBEL.

 So? Did you know of this, Ashobal?

 ASHOBAL.

                                    No.

 JEZEBEL.

 Not know of it?

 ASHOBAL.

                 Not when I bargained for it.

 JEZEBEL.

 Yet knew it now, and never mentioned it?
 Would let me bargain for a vineless vineyard
 As though it gave full vintage.

 ASHOBAL.

                                 O good Madam,
 You asked its yearly value, not its worth.

 JEZEBEL.

 That shall be proved. Naboth, I did not know
 That this your vineyard had been rooted up.

 NABOTH.

 That damned idolater, your husband, knew it.
 He said that as it was not now a vineyard,
 He could plant herbs there.

 JEZEBEL.

                             Bridle you your tongue.
 When did His Majesty the King say this?
 To whom?

 NABOTH.

          It is well known he said it openly.

 JEZEBEL.

 To you?

 NABOTH.

         No.

 JEZEBEL.

             Then to whom? To one of these?
 You are all silent. Yet the King has seen
 No other man, since his return to Shemer,
 Except Prince Joram; therefore what you say
 Is false in fact, seditious being said.
 Ashobal, what was offered for the vineyard?

 ASHOBAL.

 A better vineyard; then, that being refused,
 Three vineyards, each one better, in full bearing,
 Two of red grapes and one of white, O Queen.

 JEZEBEL.

 And he refused?

 MICAIAH.

                 He did.

 JEZEBEL (_to_ NABOTH).

                         And do you still?

 NABOTH.

 Yes.

 JEZEBEL.

      Why?

 NABOTH.

           Because the vineyards that he offered
 Aren’t his to offer.

 JEZEBEL.

                      But they are, good Naboth.
 They are the King’s.

 NABOTH.

                      Does the King work them, then?

 JEZEBEL.

 Yes, they are worked at his command. How else?

 NABOTH.

 His sweat does not fall on them.

 JEZEBEL.

                                  It has done so.
 He with his own hands worked those vineyards, Naboth,
 Before his father, Omri, became King,
 As you well know.

 NABOTH.

                   I’ll have no slave-tilled vineyard.

 JEZEBEL.

 Men cannot live without the work of others;
 You yourself do not. Did you make that robe,
 Those shoes, that pouch? But we are wandering.
 Let me, the Queen, make offer for your vineyards.
 I offer the King’s vineyards as before,
 And with them, the three marrowy olive-groves
 Which Shemer planted.

 NABOTH.

                       Shemer! And what more?

 MICAIAH.

 What more?

 ASHOBAL.

            Good heaven, you surely ask no more?

 NABOTH.

 I do. It’s not enough.

 JEZEBEL.

                        Then name your price.

 NABOTH.

 I cannot be buyer and seller both.

 JEZEBEL.

 Then I will offer these: a bale of scarlet,
 A camel-load of wool, woven or raw,
 Three tent-rugs such as desert tribesmen weave,
 Three desert-cushions made of coloured leather,
 And one sealed roll of linen from the Nile,
 The deckings of a house, in fact. With these,
 Something to gladden dwellers in the house,
 A score of honey, and a man-sized jar
 Of olive oil, a measure of fine flour,
 A pack of dates and seven porters’ loads
 Of matured wine; the feastings of a house.
 With these, I offer treasures for your house:
 Gums from Arabia to burn as perfumes,
 A tusk of ivory two cubits long,
 A bar of silver from the mines of Bakht,
 A casket made of turkis filled with beryl,
 A piece of gold, the size of a man’s hand.

 NABOTH.

 I want no ivory nor gold nor scarlet,
 Nor silver bars nor trash nor vanity.

 MICAIAH.

 Good Madam, might it not be wise to offer
 Stock for his farm?

 JEZEBEL.

                     Take horses, then, or oxen
 To till your holding.

 NABOTH.

                       I will not take them, then.

 MICAIAH.

 Would you not like them?

 NABOTH.

                          No; I do without;
 I need nor horse nor ass, nor cow nor camel.

 JEZEBEL.

 What can I offer?

 NABOTH.

                   Sacrifice to the God of Israel.

 JEZEBEL.

 I do not offer that.

 NABOTH.

                      You are not one
 To search unto the spirit, nor be single
 Within your heart. You are possessed by things;
 Dead things, with stink and colour, brought in ships;
 Your purples and the jewels for your hair,
 Your ivory room, God save us! you being mortal,
 Dwelling in ivory, while God himself
 Lives in the wooden room darkened by wings.

 MICAIAH.

 Yes, Naboth; but reserve this for the feast,
 Where those who hear it will enjoy it more
 Than we do here.

 NABOTH.

                  I do not speak to you.

 JEZEBEL.

 No, Naboth, you are speaking to your Queen,
 Who bids you to be silent, if you care
 To keep whole bones. Come from him, then, Micaiah.
 Hear a last offer, Naboth; you are old,
 Soon to become infirm, soon to bear pain.
 And find it weariness to cross the room.
 Might I not set provision for old age
 Against your vineyard? Might I settle on you
 A pension that would bring you quietness
 And what age loves, respect and ease and state;
 Might we not give you rank, as Elder, say,
 With pay and servants fitting to the rank;
 These things to be assured to you for life,
 And after, to your son?

 NABOTH.

                         I have no son.
 My son was killed while fighting for King Ahab
 In this last war. I will not sell my vineyard
 For all the rank, for all the slaves and ease
 In this realm that you make the gate of hell.
 God blot me from the record of the blest
 If I give up my father’s heritage,
 If I commit into polluted hands,
 Red with the blood of offerings to false gods,
 The earth my father worked and worshipped in.
 It is my vineyard and it shall be mine,
 By God’s red hand the King should be ashamed;
 You too would be ashamed were you not shameless,
 To tempt a poor man’s soul with merchandise;
 You, smeared with spice, painted, and dripping perfume,
 A shameless woman, chaffering with a man,
 And he, the King, a dallier with God’s foes,
 Conspiring thus to cheat me of my vineyard.
 God puts a word into my mouth to say,
 He makes my mouth to spit upon you both.
 There is for you. And there is for the King.
 I spit upon you both and bid God curse you,
 Curse you to ruin and to rottenness.
 As here I curse you; him for making peace,
 Where no peace is, and you, you insolent woman,
 For being, like the King, a curse on Israel,
 A bringer down into the pit of hell.

 MICAIAH.

 You shall avoid the presence when you curse.
                                                    [_Exit with_ NABOTH.

 JEZEBEL.

 You heard the curses of this frantic man?

 ASHOBAL _and_ PHARMAS.

 Madam, we did. We longed to silence him.

 JEZEBEL.

 Rechab is captain of the guard to-day?

 PHARMAS.

 Yes, Madam.

 ASHOBAL.

             Rechab, with the Jezreel troop,
 Mounts guard till night.

 JEZEBEL.

                          That will be well, Ashobal.
 You know the ivory room that the King made?
 You know that it was never planned nor used
 For anything, save as an inmost shrine
 For worshipping of God?

 PHARMAS _and_ ASHOBAL.

                         We know it, Madam.

 JEZEBEL.

 Here is Micaiah back. Has Naboth gone?

 MICAIAH.

 Yes, Madam, to the rabble of his friends
 Waiting his coming at the palace gate.
 Now they are taking him triumphantly
 Up to the feast, shouting, “He held his own
 Against the royal tyrants.” At the feast,
 When they have drunken, they will speak worse evil.

 JEZEBEL.

 You all remember what he uttered here?
 How he misused the name of God, and cursed
 The King and me?

 MICAIAH, ASHOBAL, _and_ PHARMAS (_together_).

                  We do remember.

 JEZEBEL.

 Wait, then, some minutes, till the feast be set,
 Then summon up the chapter of the priests,
 And Rechab with his troop of bodyguard.
 Then march with priests and soldiers to the banquet.
 Let the priests call for silence from the throng,
 And in the silence do you three stand forth,
 Bear witness against Naboth in these terms:
 “Thou didst blaspheme God and the King!” repeat
 The words he uttered, bear each other witness;
 And if a further witness be required,
 Say I, the Queen, will come to testify,
 Who heard the words, yet spared the speaker of them,
 So that the priests, whose cause it is, might judge.
 Then call upon the priests to utter judgment
 According to the laws of blasphemy.

 MICAIAH, PHARMAS, _and_ ASHOBAL.

 We will obey your orders instantly.                     [_They go out._

 JEZEBEL.

 Which brings the greater woe; to pass an evil,
 Or break your Being’s law to combat it?
 The allotted sorrow ever has a gateway.


CURTAIN.


THIRD CHORUS

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 Nireus sailed; and a strange wind blew him to islands unseen before,
   Where the gods sat throned on the crags with peace on their
          marvellous faces,
 Clouds and the smoke of fire, that glittered and changed, they wore!
   And unto them came the crying of all man’s sorrowful races.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 They cried to him as he passed, “You are seeking and you shall find,
   Not in the way you hope, not in the way foreseen;
 Out of horror of soul, ache, and anguish of mind,
   Out of the desert of all, shall come the leaf that is green.”

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 Then the wind blew on to an island where millet is ever in ear,
   And the horses that live in the sea come thronging in thousands to
          eat,
 And the horses that live on the island will never let them come near,
   But they fight on the beaches forever with flashing and thunder of
          feet.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 Then he sailed by invisible islands, he smelt the fruit on the trees,
   And heard the noise in the shipyards and the crowing of cocks unseen,
 Then sheered from the roar of breakers and on over unknown seas,
   And ever he grieved for Paris, and thought of the beautiful Queen.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 Then he came to a sea of terror, where monsters rose from the sea,
   Things with the beaks of birds and arms like the suckers of vines:
 Things like ghosts in the water coming motionlessly
   To tatter the flesh of men with teeth like the cactus-spines.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 Over unending water ever he held his course,
   Birds that were curses followed, crying around and above:
 “Nireus, broken by beauty, broken again by remorse,
   Goes to the breaking of death for killing his friend and love.”

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 And ever he cursed himself for bringing them both to wreck,
   Helen and Paris, the lovely; and ever the waves seemed filled
 With skull-bones hollow in death, that rose and peered on the deck:
   And he thought, “They are those from Troy whom I in my madness
          killed.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 “Had I refused, when they asked for my help to escape,
   Paris would still be alive, Troy, the city, would stand,
 And all the killed of the war would be tilling the corn and the grape,
   Not ghosts with a curse in the air and torn bones strewing the land.”

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 So he sailed; but at night in the dark when the lantern bubbled aloft,
   And men lay sleeping, when all save he were asleep,
 And the ship slid on with a gurgle of water soft,
   He knew that the dead of Troy came with him over the deep.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 Out of the long-backed roller that slid from its crest of foam,
   Gibbered the bloodless dead, white faces with haggard eyes,
 Pointing the bones of their hands at him who had forced them from home,
   Their curses came to his ears like little twittering cries.

 TOGETHER.

 Whenever he moored at an island for water or food or rest,
   Soon those wraiths of the dead would rise and bid him begone,
 To harry the resting gannet out of the roller’s crest,
   And carry the curse of his soul to the unknown, on and on.


FOURTH CHORUS

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 In the grey of morning
 When the stars were paling,
 Nireus sailing,
 Saw land ahead.
 An island shining
 With city towers,
 Where bells were ringing
 And men singing.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 As Nireus stepped ashore there
 He stood staring,
 For all men there
 Were the dead of the war:
 The Greeks and Trojans,
 Beautiful and swift,
 Killed in the trampled tamarisks
 Beneath Troy town.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 Stars were in their hair,
 Their brows were crowned with violets,
 They stepped like stags,
 Comrade with comrade.
 They had forgotten
 The mud and death,
 The heat and flies
 Of the plain of Troy.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 There among them
 Came a prince in scarlet,
 With his hands stretched
 In welcoming.
 It was Paris, his friend,
 Paris whom he killed
 In the midnight raid
 Beneath Troy wall.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 Paris cried,
 “Nireus, my comrade,
 Nireus, my belovèd,
 My friend of old!
 Here we have forgiven
 What my young man’s folly bred,
 We feast as friends
 In the violet fields.”

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 Then he led Nireus
 To the hall of feasting.
 There they feasted
 In the violet fields.
 Three summer days and nights,
 It seemed, they feasted,
 Each summer day and night
 Was ten years long.

 TOGETHER.

 Paris and the heroes
 Cried to Nireus,
 “We loved Helen,
 When we were men.
 Now we love her still
 And we see her lonely,
 Old, and haunted
 By her lovers dead.

 “Take to Helen
 Gifts from her lovers,
 In her old age find her
 And give her these:
 Beauty and peace
 And our forgiveness,
 And all our thanks
 For what she was.”

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 As they ceased speaking
 They faded from him,
 The island faded,
 Nireus was at sea.
 He and his men
 Were all grown old,
 Thirty years
 Had fallen on them.

 TOGETHER.

 As old men failing
 They came to Sparta;
 All unavailing
 Their coming was.
 Helen was gone
 And none knew whither,
 To search for peace
 Or to find release.

 Over the seas
 In lands and islands
 Nireus sought her,
 But could not find.
 For the gods retire
 When men desire,
 Though it burn like fire
 And make men blind.



THIRD ACT


 PROPHET.

 Come, you avenging Powers, who with swords
 Smite at the bidding of your overlords;
 Come, all you threatening things, who, with slant eyes,
 Wait to snatch spirits in the mood unwise;
 Come, eagle spirits, that do drink man’s blood,
 Hurry on smeared wings hither to your food:
 I, who am Prophet, give you King and Queen.

_Enter_ ASHOBAL.

 ASHOBAL.

 What are you raging for? Be silent, Prophet,
 The King is coming hither.

 PROPHET.

                            Tell him this:
 “I am the herald of a mightier King,
 Who bids me stand before this palace door
 And cry a curse on Ahab and his wife.
 Ahab, the dog, Ahab, the murderer,
 And Jezebel the harlot murderess.”

_Enter_ AHAB.

 AHAB.

 So! Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?

 PROPHET.

 Yes, I have found thee, and before I lose thee
 Will speak one word. What hast thou done, thou devil,
 On Naboth, that most upright man of God!

 AHAB.

 An upright man is in God’s hands, O Prophet.

 PROPHET.

 True, he is in God’s hands. Who sent him there?

 AHAB.

 I know not, Prophet, but if he be there,
 He will be much at peace.

 PROPHET.

                           You fiend of hell!
 You, who hath murdered Naboth, to exult
 Over his corpse, still bleeding as it is.

 AHAB.

 I have not murdered Naboth, nor do know
 That he is dead, nor how, nor why. Explain.

 PROPHET.

 You damned him to be stoned for blasphemy.

 AHAB.

 I, do you say?

 PROPHET.

                Yes, you; or if not you,
 Your bloody-hearted hirelings and the priests.

 AHAB.

 The priests alone can judge of blasphemy.
 Which do you call my hirelings?

 PROPHET.

                                 The accursed
 Idolaters who follow on your Queen.

_Enter_ JEZEBEL.

 JEZEBEL.

 I am the Queen. Where is the man who dares
 Call those who follow me accurst?

 PROPHET.

                                   Here, devil.
 Here is the man who dares call you and them
 Accurst as murderers of Naboth dead.

 AHAB.

 You say that priests condemned him for blaspheming.

 PROPHET.

 You stirred the priests to prosecuting him.

 AHAB.

 No, not in any way soever, Prophet.

 PROPHET.

 Then you, co-devil with him, did this thing.

 JEZEBEL.

 Hearken, old ruffian, and be warned by Naboth.
 He cursed his God and King here in my presence,
 Breaking the kingdom’s laws of blasphemy.
 I, who uphold this kingdom’s laws, gave order
 That he should be arraigned for blasphemy.
 Do I conclude that there are still some men
 Who do their ruler’s bidding in this kingdom?

 AHAB.

 He was arraigned, condemned, and stoned?

 PROPHET.

                                          He was.

 JEZEBEL.

 So perish all such breakers of the law.

 PROPHET.

 Easily spoken words for King and Queen;
 And easy laws for King and Queen to keep,
 Living in purple in the ivory room;
 And useful laws for killing enemies.
 But there are other laws which do persist
 After the enemies are killed. For Naboth
 We left his body lying on its face,
 And the wild dogs slink in and lick his blood;
 And the bald birds that watch in heaven for deaths
 Settle, and wait until the dogs have done.
 But ... as those dogs and buzzards come to Naboth,
 The dogs and kites of vengeance come to you.
 I tell you this ...
 Since you have sold yourself thus to work evil,
 I will bring evil on you, take away
 All your posterity, and make your house
 Like Jeroboam’s house,
 And like the accursed house, Baasha’s house.
 Those of your house that die within the city
 The dogs shall eat, and those that die afield
 The fowls of the air shall eat; and Jezebel ...
 Dogs shall eat Jezebel by the city wall.
 Now royal rottenness in purple hedged,
 I call a great cry from the Spirit of God.
 Come all you dogs and vultures,
 Come on your noiseless wings out of great Heaven,
 Come upon padding footsteps stealthily.
 Follow your victims in the hearts of men,
 And by the ways of men, and take their blood
 As they took his, as they took his, as they
 Took his, upon the stones; blood, blood, that shrieks.

                            (_The spirit passes out of him. He swoons._)

 AHAB.

 So, Jezebel, you see what you have done.

 JEZEBEL.

 Would you have pardoned Naboth, had you heard him?

 AHAB.

 No; but to give our enemies this handle
 Against us, at this time, and for no reason.

 JEZEBEL.

 The laws are plain: would you have pardoned him?

 AHAB.

 I tell you, no.

 JEZEBEL.

                 Then what would you have done?

 AHAB.

 Made him a mocking, or imprisoned him,
 Or had him publicly displayed and shamed.

 JEZEBEL.

 Why did you not then do as you have said?
 I told you plainly of the need of action.
 One of us rulers had to play the King
 And check this rebel. Since you did not, I did.
 And he is checked for ever, and his friends
 Daunted: so daunted that you have the chance
 Now to take hold and be indeed the King,
 And rule according to your royal will,
 Not as the frenzy of a rebel bids.

 AHAB.

 This thing that you have done has ruined all
 The little chance I had of governing.
 You bring me to the pitch of having to choose
 Between your fancies and the people’s will.
 Perhaps it is too late to remedy
 The evil that must follow from your folly.
 Naboth is dead: this prophet shows our future;
 If there be any future left for us.
 Do not now answer me; I must debate this
 Within myself. You may have ruined me,
 But that or no, you have been mad, by Heaven.
                                                           [_Exit_ AHAB.

 JEZEBEL.

 How blest to be a prophet, who forever
 Does but condemn another man’s endeavour.
 How blest, not to decide, nor be, nor do,
 But help the many to condemn the few.

_Enter_ JORAM.

Joram, my son, do you come to comfort your mother?

JORAM.

No, mother, I do not. I come to look for my father.

JEZEBEL.

If you are looking for the King, this is the King.

JORAM.

What is this body, Madam? The prophet? Is he dead?

JEZEBEL.

Only swooned from cursing your father and mother.

JORAM.

Mother, you are talking very strangely.

JEZEBEL.

I have been mad, by Heaven. Why, Joram, you come to tell my father so;
do you not, boy?

JORAM.

I do not know how to answer you.

JEZEBEL.

You reckon me a curse upon this country?

JORAM.

As my father’s officer I have to report what the citizens feel.

JEZEBEL.

You feel it with them.

JORAM.

Whatever I feel I can restrain; but since you insist, I say that it is
hard that my father should be ruined by your Syrian policy and gods and
self.

JEZEBEL.

You are half-Syrian.

JORAM.

Through you, I was. But in this war, while I lay wounded, a Syrian
trooper kicked me and spurred me in the face. That took my last drop
of Syrian blood; your blood. There is nothing Syrian in me now. But I
mean to pay the Syrians for that kicking and spurring when they lie
wounded. You have made father mild and Ahaziah like yourself; but after
them perhaps I shall be King; perhaps sooner.

JEZEBEL.

You are leagued with your father’s enemies. And do you think that they
will make you the King?

JORAM.

It is not a question of what I think, but of the needs of this land.

JEZEBEL.

When the mob comes to sack the palace, there is always some prince to
open the door.

JORAM.

If I ever am the King, the Syrians will see.

JEZEBEL.

May it be long before you become King.

JORAM.

Your killing Naboth may make it very long. But I am not here to talk
with you, but with the King.

JEZEBEL.

As I told you, this is the King, here on the ground.

_Enter_ AHAB.

JORAM.

Save you, O King, I bring a message from the Council.

AHAB.

What is it?

JORAM.

Something that would be better said by Ahaziah than myself.

AHAB.

Let me hear it.

JORAM.

If I did not bring it as a message, it would be my duty as your officer
to bring it as a report.

JEZEBEL.

The Council sends word by your son that you, the King, should banish
the Queen.

JORAM.

Madam, do not add to the pain of my mission. The Council is composed
of manly and godly men, the best of our country, whose wills are worth
the weighing. They bid me say, sir, this, that they deplore that such
a King should have for counsellor one who brings peace with Syria, and
the death of an upright man whom they esteemed.

AHAB.

By this counsellor they mean your mother, the Queen?

JORAM.

Sir, you are ever wise and they ever respectful. They feel that a
foreign influence is not for your people’s good, nor for justice in
your people’s causes.

JEZEBEL.

My son, speak openly, for the people’s good.

AHAB.

What do they demand?

JORAM.

They bid me say, sir, that they cannot doubt that you would care only
for your people’s good, were it made apparent.

JEZEBEL.

Make it apparent.

JORAM.

Sire, I would that the prince, my brother, might have had this task.

JEZEBEL.

I, too, wish that, my son. Is not banishment enough, then? Do they ask
for my death?

JORAM.

Sir, those are their feelings.

AHAB.

They hate my Queen and wish her gone?

JORAM.

Sir, truth cannot be hidden from you.

AHAB.

And if I ignore their feelings, or crush their mutterings?

JORAM.

Sir, they think you too great a man, for either way.

AHAB.

But if they err, and I do?

JORAM.

You would not.

AHAB.

If I did, what then?

JORAM.

Your Majesty has too good a memory.

AHAB.

What do you mean by that, boy?

JORAM.

Sir, your father only came to the crown because a former King ignored
men’s feelings. King Nadab ignored his subjects’ feelings. What
happened to him? King Elah did. What happened to him? King Zimri did.
What happened to him? Men now living saw all these Kings; and what came
to them? The crown is granted on certain terms, according with the Life
of this Race. My father, I beseech you, think what this Race asks.

AHAB.

I never cease to think it. Leave us.
                                                          [_Exit_ JORAM.

You heard what he said?

JEZEBEL.

Yes.

AHAB.

They want me to put you aside.

JEZEBEL.

Yes, Ahab.

AHAB.

What urged you to prosecute Naboth at such a time?

JEZEBEL.

Someone had to act.

AHAB.

You acted fatally.

JEZEBEL.

I was myself, Ahab; a princess of Sidon; your Queen.

AHAB.

This is not Sidon, but Shemer.

 JEZEBEL.

 I will not plead for your forgiveness, then.
 Dismiss me from your council and your court
 And let me be; the hated foreign woman
 Who tried and failed. I will be nothing here.
 After these years of hatred it will be
 Peace to be nothing. When my son returns,
 (The captain, Ahaziah) send him hence.
 I sent for him to help me govern here.
 Since I am nothing now, he must not stay.
 But now that I am nothing, I say this:
 That you must be upon your guard, King Ahab,
 More; you must play the King, and being King,
 Strike down this prophet and his friend, Lord Jehu,
 For they are linked together against peace.

 AHAB.

 What proofs have you?

 JEZEBEL.

                       A woman has no proofs,
 Only an instinct fortified by love
 Stronger than any proof.

 AHAB.

                          And I have knowledge.
 Jehu has been my captain of the horse,
 My comrade in the field, my counsellor,
 My soldier, who has shed his blood for me
 In five campaigns, in many years of war.
 This prophet is indeed the enemy
 Of much that I have planned, but as for Jehu,
 I know him, and I know that you have wronged him
 And speak from bitterness.

 JEZEBEL.

                            Ahab, beware.
 By all our lives together, you beware
 Of Jehu and this man.

 AHAB.

 Had I been ware of you, Queen Jezebel,
 Many years sooner, I had had no need
 To be aware of any of my subjects.
 I cannot longer countenance your dealings.
 They neither suit my people nor the time. Therefore
 I do dismiss you from your royalty,
 From Queenship and command and counselling,
 From all authority in Shemer here.
 This shall be straightway published as my will.

 PROPHET.

 The messenger that spoke through me has gone,
 And I am cold and broken as with blows,
 But yet I hear--can you not hear--do you?

 AHAB.

 What should we hear, old ruffian from the desert?

 PROPHET.

 The wings descending and the footsteps coming.
 The vultures and the dogs coming for blood.
 Listen. The vultures settle in the court,
 And there are footsteps coming up the stair,
 The footsteps of the dogs that come for blood;
 For blood is coming upon this house, and I
 Have told you that it comes; I am its herald.

  _Enter_ JEHU _from in front, carrying armour. He comes on, stands
  motionless, then flings down a helmet; then, after a pause, a
  corselet; then, after a pause, a sword._ ZAKKUR _stands behind him_.

 AHAB.

 What does your coming with these weapons mean?
 Whose weapons are they? What has happened, Jehu?
 Is it some challenge? Speak.

 JEZEBEL.

                              I know that sword.
 It’s Ahaziah’s sword. My son is dead?
                                                          (JEHU _nods_.)

 AHAB.

 What? Ahaziah dead? How did he die?

 JEHU.

 While he was riding here, he made a halt,
 To rest his horses, at the inn at Springs;
 And leaning on the lattice, looking out,
 He fell out of the upper balcony,
 And died soon after, broken by the fall.
 Here is the witness, who will tell you how.

 AHAB.

 Speak, then, and tell the tale. How could he fall?

 ZAKKUR.

 By treachery, by Syrian treachery.

Lord, when our Queen commanded the Prince to return here, she sent her
orders by a Syrian of the Court.

JEZEBEL.

I did, by Malik.

ZAKKUR.

Malik was in the pay of the King of Syria.

JEZEBEL.

That is false. That lie has been exposed many times over.

ZAKKUR.

Madam, alas, it is now proven, by Malik’s confession.

AHAB.

Who are you who speak?

ZAKKUR.

A lieutenant in our late Prince’s troop, my lord.

AHAB.

Go on, then, about Malik.

ZAKKUR.

Before delivering his orders to our late Prince, he showed them to
the Syrian officers in the garrison at Ramoth. They saw a chance of
intercepting our Prince upon his way. They bribed Malik to lead the
Prince, so as to halt at the inn at Springs. They did not wish to set
upon him, because they expected the troop to be with the Prince. They
sawed through the beams of the balcony of the inn so that when he set
foot upon it, the floor should give way. The Prince did not bring his
troop with him, but set out with myself, his galloper, and Malik. He
halted at the inn, at Malik’s persuasion, much against his will, for he
wished to be here. Then all happened as his murderers the Syrians had
devised. He went upon the balcony, it fell, and he died from it.

After he had died, my lord, Malik urged us to come away, which I and my
colleague would not, without examination. When we found that the beams
had been sawn, remembering Malik’s Syrian birth and his suspicious
wishes, first to halt there, then to come away, we taxed him with the
crime and he confessed, and was secured.

The galloper waits at the inn for an escort for the body and the
prisoner. It was decided that I should ride here at once with the news.

JEZEBEL.

Before he died, did he say anything?

ZAKKUR.

Yes, Madam; he muttered about the gods, and about you.

JEZEBEL.

What did he say?

ZAKKUR.

That we were to tell you that this was the gods’ reward for peace with
Syria.

JEZEBEL.

Since he is dead, wisdom and peace are dead!
                                                        [_She goes out._

 AHAB.

   God, thou hast faced me with my sin this day.
 My son, who was to follow me as King,
 Killed by a Syrian plot, by treachery.
 Killed, coming home to help me in my sorrows.

 PROPHET.

 Killed by your treachery, that made the peace
 With Syria, against God’s ordinance.

 JEHU.

 Nothing that has been done by Syria
 Against this land can rank beside this deed;
 The loss of such a Prince by such a crime
 Will rouse this country, lord. You will keep peace
 By your great policy, but through your people
 A mighty cry for vengeance will arise.

 AHAB.

 And not unheeded, Jehu. Listen, all.
 This was his sword. He was to be the King
 After my death, fulfilling all my dreams.
 See, you, and you, and you, I take the sword
 And draw it out and swear upon its hilt
 To take a vengeance on the murderers
 Who brought him to his death.

 JEHU.

                               Well sworn, O King;

 PROPHET.

 Surely the Spirit of God is working in you!

 AHAB.

 Wait yet, O Prophet; though my heart is sick
 At having trusted in my enemies,
 And been ill-paid, I will ask help from God;
 Counsel and help in any act of justice.
 Go, gather me the prophets, let them seek
 Illumination, then bring word to me
 Whether the spirit do approve a war.
 I will go seek for guidance, though my heart
 Seeks less for guidance now than for release.

 JEHU.

 Lord, all true hearts commiserate your grief.

 AHAB.

 Thank you, good Jehu.                                     [_Exit_ AHAB.

 ZAKKUR.

                       Well, he took the story.

 JEHU.

 Yes, as I knew he would. The score’s one each.
 He has won Naboth, I have Ahaziah.

 PROPHET.

 Was not the story true?

 JEHU.

                         The Prince is dead,
 So much is true; and in an hour from now
 We can be marching hence with Ahab’s self,
 If all your prophets will but prophesy.
 I want him killed in war, outside the city.
 Go, bid the prophets prophesy for war.
                                         [_Exit_ PROPHET, _with_ ZAKKUR.

 JEHU.

 So, Ahaziah, you were rude to me.
 Princes should not be rude to rising men,
 For men may rise. You will be rude no more.
 I have been rude to you, my Ahaziah.
 I kicked the lips that once were rude to me.
 My foot is on your heart’s blood, Ahaziah.


CURTAIN.


FIFTH CHORUS

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 Full of years and wealth and evil, Menelaus died in Sparta,
   And Queen Helen at his bedside stood and looked upon him dead,
 He who once had bought her beauty, to be bride to him, by barter,
   He whom she had loathed and fled from, now lay silenced on the bed.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 Bitter thoughts were in her as she looked upon his meanness,
   Thoughts of Paris in his beauty when their love was at its height.
 Paris in his morning, and the King in his uncleanness,
   And this dead mean thing, her master, and the winner of the fight.

 TOGETHER.

 All was silent in the palace of the King,
 Save the soft-foot watchers whispering;
   All was dark, save in the porch
   The wind-blown fire of a torch,
 And the sentries still as in a stound,
 With their spear-heads drooped upon the ground.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 Then she thought: “These two men had me, and a myriad men have sickened
   To a fever of a love for me who saw me passing by:
 When they saw me, all their eyes grew bright, and all their pulses
          quickened,
   And to win me or to keep me they went up to Troy to die.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 “Now the earthly moon, my beauty, and the rose, my youth, have
          dwindled.
   I am old, my hair is grey, and none remembers
 What a fire in men’s hearts Queen Helen kindled
 Ere the fire in Queen Helen turned to embers.”

 TOGETHER.

 All was silent in the palace of the King,
 Save the wind-blown torch-flame guttering,
   And a moth that came
   Beating with his wings about the flame,
 And the sentries drawing breath,
 With their spear-heads drooped saluting death.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 Then she said: “The gods conspired to give gifts of beauty to me,
 And the beauty gave the gift of death to all who came to woo me;
   Now of all the men who loved me, none remain,
 And of both the men who had me neither knew me
 Surely all my past was evil, for its fruit is bitter pain.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 “I will go to some lone island where I am not made a story,
   Where my beauty made no widow, nor no orphan wanting bread;
 Where no human sorrow suffers the disaster of my glory,
   And my eyes may lose the vision of the hauntings of the dead.”

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 “Day and night the dead men haunt me, whom the madness of my caring
   Brought from home and wives and children to be bones upon the plain;
 All the panther-like for beauty, all the lion-like for daring,
   And they lie among the bindweed now, uncovered by the rain.”

 TOGETHER.

 All was silent in the palace of the King,
 Save the soft-foot watchers whispering;
   All was dark, save in the porch
   The wind-blown fire of a torch,
 And the sentries still as in a stound
 With their spear-heads drooped upon the ground.

 Then she rose, and cloaked her face, and hurried swiftly from the city,
   And to sea, away from Hellas, but she dared not show her face,
 For the women and the orphans would have killed her without pity:
   She had sown her crop of death too far, she found no resting-place.

 But in inns where people gathered in the evenings after labour,
   Where the shepherd’s pipe or viol stirred the blind man to his verse,
 Till the hearers swayed and trembled and the rough man touched his
          neighbour,
   They would talk of Troy with sadness, but of Helen with a curse.


SIXTH CHORUS

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 After long years, when Helen was riding by night
   In storm, in the Ida forest, alone, not knowing the road,
 She saw a light in the blackness; she turned to the light,
   She came to the fort on the crag, the panther-women’s abode.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 Hearing her horse’s stamp, they brought her into the yard,
   Those women fierce from the killing of lion or boar or man;
 They came with their torches round her, they stared at her hard,
   They knew her for Helen the Queen from whom their sorrows began.

 For years they had longed for her coming, to have her to kill,
   Her beauty a throat for their knives, her body a prey--
 Helen, who ruined their lovers, the root of their ill--
   She said: “I am Helen. Avenge yourselves on me. You may.”

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 Still they stared at her there in the torchlight; then one of them
          said:
   “God used you to bring things to be; evil things to our city,
 Evil things to yourself, for your face declares you have paid;
   You have come to the truth like ourselves; we take not vengeance,
          but pity.”
 Then they welcomed her into their hold, and when morning broke clear,
   They rode with her down to the ruins of what had been Troy;
 There they left her alone in the wreck of the thing overdear
   That the gods cannot grant to mankind, but unite to destroy.



FOURTH ACT


 JEZEBEL.

 I shall not look upon my son again!
 How many million mothers must have felt
 As I, with a dead child. How many lives
 Have been made lightless thus.
 For no child ever dies without the breaking
 Of someone’s heart.
 And yet the world goes on.
 I shall go on, perhaps for many years,
 And in my heart’s most secret corridor
 Will be a shrine, where I shall watch my son,
 Lonely as Helen in her tower at Troy
 When Paris had been killed.
 Would I had been beside him when he fell,
 And fallen with him to the pit of death!
 Better die so, not mangled in the war,
 A young man, beautiful in youth, as thou wert;
 Not troubled yet by life; not yet a King;
 Thou hast been only young and now art dead.

 With all life’s faults, I want you back in life,
 Not dead, my son, beyond my touch and speech,
 But here, moving and speaking, being mine.
 My help and stay and wisdom and assuagement
 As in the past. You, who gave no farewell,
 Speak to me from the grave, O lovely son.
                                                 (_There is a sighing._)
 Was that an answer from the dead, or birds
 Flying away before the winter comes?
 My son, if you are there, speak to my spirit.
                                                 (_There is a sighing._)
 What message do you bring, that you are here?
 What do you come to tell me?

 THE VOICE.

                              Death.

 JEZEBEL.

                                     What?

 THE VOICE.

                                           Death.

 JEZEBEL.

 Whose death? Mine? Or your father’s? Or the kingdom’s?
 My son’s soul was within this room and speaking.
 O speak again, say something, give me proof
 That you are linked still by dear love to me. Hark! Hush!
 No. There was no voice speaking; nor will be.

AHAZIAH _appears_.

 My boy! My son!

 AHAZIAH.

                 Mother!

 JEZEBEL.

                         My child! My dear!

 AHAZIAH.

 Listen. I cannot say it all. The flowers
 Speak truth. You all are coming.

 JEZEBEL.

                                  Then, beloved,
 We shall soon meet again, and part no more.

 AHAZIAH.

 Mother, I struggle back to tell you this:
 It is most hard to come, most hard to speak.
 You must with all your power strive to cut
 These nets.

 JEZEBEL.

             What are these nets?

 AHAZIAH.

                                  The nets of death,
 That are all round you like a hunter’s toils.

 JEZEBEL.

 Do you mean civil war? Or war with Syria?

 AHAZIAH.

 That is not what I mean; but someone near you.
 Someone about you has most deadly hands,
 A hangman’s hands; and you must break his hands.

 JEZEBEL.

 Who is it, that is deadly? Is it Joram?

 AHAZIAH.

 I cannot speak his name, but, mother, hark:
 He murdered me; I never saw his face;
 He killed me at the inn.

 JEZEBEL.

                          Jehu, you mean?

 AHAZIAH.

 The man forever looking at the throat,
 Whose fingers twitch; a red-eyed man it is,
 I cannot speak the name.

 JEZEBEL.

                          Oh, it is Jehu!
 And Jehu murdered you?

 AHAZIAH.

                        There’s danger, mother;
 Avoid the nets. I cannot make you see them.

 JEZEBEL.

 Jehu is spreading nets of treachery?

 AHAZIAH.

 The flowers speak truth; the flowers and the rod,
 The riding rod.                                             [_He goes._

 JEZEBEL.

                 Oh, speak! O my dear son,
 How can I help, I being Queen no longer,
 But banished and condemned? What can I do?
 And what is this of riding rods and flowers?
                                                 (_There is a sighing._)

 My son is gone into the night of Death,
 And Jehu murdered him in ways unknown.
 Would I could prove the crime!

_Enter_ MICAIAH.

 MICAIAH.

 Madam, a rider from the inn at Springs
 Has brought these flowers, gathered by the Prince
 Your son, now dead.

 JEZEBEL.

                     The flowers that speak truth;
 Was there no other relic but the flowers?

 MICAIAH.

 Yes, Madam, this: a staff or riding rod,
 Left on the flowers, so the rider said.

 JEZEBEL.

 A riding rod! And do you know the rod?

 MICAIAH.

 Madam, I do. It is Lord Jehu’s staff.

 JEZEBEL.

 What brought it to the inn at Springs, Micaiah?

 MICAIAH.

 I do not know. The rider found it there.

 JEZEBEL.

 Where is the rider who delivered these?

 MICAIAH.

 Gone, Madam; he preferred not to be known.

 JEZEBEL.

 I see you have suspicions; let me know them.

 MICAIAH.

 Madam, this staff was in Lord Jehu’s hand
 This morning, when I saw him here at court.

 JEZEBEL.

 That, or one like it? Could you swear to that?

 MICAIAH.

 He held this staff. He stopped me in the square
 About a warrant, and I noticed it.
 This little scratch is unmistakable.

 JEZEBEL.

 And what can you conclude from this, Micaiah?

 MICAIAH.

 That the Lord Jehu hurried to the Springs,
 After I saw him, and then hurried back.

 JEZEBEL.

 What duty could have taken him to Springs?

 MICAIAH.

 Madam, he had no duty there. I asked.

 JEZEBEL.

 Might not a messenger have gone from him
 Bearing his staff?

 MICAIAH.

                    Madam, he went himself.
 The warden at the west gate saw him start
 In that direction, and return from thence
 Three hours later. He was back by noon.

 JEZEBEL.

 So that he would have been at Springs, perhaps,
 Before Prince Ahaziah halted there?

 MICAIAH.

 Perhaps.

 JEZEBEL.

   Yet not perhaps; he would have been there.
 He must have been there at the very time.

 MICAIAH.

 Madam, I dare not utter thoughts like these.

 JEZEBEL.

 Yet Jehu could not know that he was coming
 Home from the frontier, or would pass by Springs.

 MICAIAH.

 So please you, Madam, but the fact was known
 Publicly in the city everywhere.
 The knowledge was abroad, I know not how.
 You are beset by watchers, and by traitors.

 JEZEBEL.

 And murderers and friends of murderers.
 Jehu waylaid my son and murdered him.
 By these poor relics sacred with his blood
 I will denounce him to the King myself,
 Or lay him dead before me with my hands.
                                             (_She gathers the relics._)

 MICAIAH.

 Lie there, sad relic of a glorious youth.

 ZIKRI (_entering_).

 Make ready for the utterance of the Prophet!

 KALLAI (_entering_).

 Bow down before the Prophet, bringer of truth!

_Enter the_ PROPHET.

 PROPHET.

 I am bringer of Truth out of the hidden,
 I am finder of ways where footing is sure,
 I am sword and shield against things forbidden.
 I am brightness to guide, healing to cure;
   Mine are the words that endure.
 I, now, about to declare as the Spirit orders,
 Cry, let women avoid, let children hide,
 Let none but spearmen be here, the city’s warders.
 I speak, out of the Truth, words that abide.
 Men only may hear what might of men must decide.
                                              [JEZEBEL _veils and goes_.

_Enter_ JORAM, _then_ JEHU, _then_ AHAB, _preceded by_ SPEARMEN.

 AHAB.

 Now that the revelation is vouchsafed,
 Stand, all, before this Prophet, who has seen
 Light in the darkness that has blinded us.

 PROPHET.

 Hearken, O King, to revelation’s self.
 The spirit says, “Go up against the Syrians;
 At Ramoth-Gilead you shall conquer them.”
 See here these horns of iron that I wear.
 The spirit says, “With these horns shalt thou push
 The Syrians, until they be consumed.”

 JEHU.

 Good messages, good omens, good foretellings.

 AHAB.

 May they prove good.

 JORAM.

 The spirit filled the prophets with a glory
 Marvellous to watch and hear: they spoke as one.

 MICAIAH.

 Not quite as one, Prince Joram and my King.
 One was not filled with spirit.

 AHAB.

                                 Who is this?

 MICAIAH.

 I am Micaiah, lord, who have been counted
 A seer, too, at times.

 AHAB.

                        Oh, it is you!
 Honest Micaiah, who must speak the truth.
 I hate this man; he prophesies not good
 But evil of me.

 JEHU.

 These fellows are too ready with their evil.

 PHARMAS (_to_ MICAIAH).

 See now, the prophets foretell victory,
 With one mouth; say the same; cry victory.

 MICAIAH.

 As the Lord lives I’ll speak what the Lord says.

 AHAB.

 Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-Gilead
 To battle, or forbear?

 MICAIAH.

                        Go, lord, and prosper,
 The Lord shall make it yours.

 AHAB.

                               How many times
 Shall I adjure you that you speak the truth,
 Speak nothing but the truth.

 JORAM.

 I’d have a way to make him speak the truth.
 Two troopers with a pair of stirrup leathers
 To teach his obstinate jaw some reverence.

 AHAB.

 Peace, Joram: let him speak.

 MICAIAH.

                              Sir, I will speak.
 In dreams, last night, in the dark night, ere cocks crowed,
 I saw a downland empty to the sky.

 JORAM.

 That is the way these fellows use to talk;
 They’d talk another way, had I my will.

 MICAIAH.

 And suddenly I saw all Israel
 Scattered upon that downland frantically,
 Like sheep without a shepherd. The Lord said:
 “These have no master now; let them go home.”

 AHAB.

 And how do you interpret this your dream?

 MICAIAH.

 That if you go this warfare, you, the master
 Of Israel, will die.

 AHAB.

                      How die?

 MICAIAH.

 I do not know.

 JEHU.

                You mean, in battle?

 MICAIAH.

 By violence.

 JORAM.

              That means in battle, surely.

 MICAIAH.

 Not necessarily.

 JEHU.

                  How else, then, man?

 MICAIAH.

 I do not know. Perhaps by treachery.

 JEHU.

 We will protect the King from treachery.

 JORAM (_to_ MICAIAH).

 Except such treachery as men like you
 Think in their hearts and utter in big words,
 Trying to wreck the State.

 AHAB.

                            Did I not say
 That he would utter evil about me?

 JORAM.

 These fellows need a bit within their jaws.

 MICAIAH.

 My Prince, no bit can stop the telling truth.

 PROPHET.

 What do you know of truth, idolater?

 MICAIAH.

 Nothing. I know that certain things are true.

 JEHU.

 Fine talk, to keep the army lingering.

 AHAB.

 Have you some other vision to reveal?

 MICAIAH.

 A sort of vision.

 PROPHET.

                   Ay, a sort of vision.
 There is one way of vision, only one,
 Vouchsafed to men, you false one, with false gods.

 AHAB.

 What is this vision? Will it lighten me?

 MICAIAH.

 It is of you and of the prophet tribe.

 PROPHET.

 Some blasphemy. Take heed to what he says.

 MICAIAH.

 In the dark night I saw this other thing:
 I saw the Lord in heaven on his throne,
 With all the host of heaven standing by him.
 He said, “Who shall persuade King Ahab to go up
 And die at Ramoth-Gilead?” They discussed it.
 At last a spirit said, “I will persuade him.”
 The Lord said, “How?”
 The spirit said, “I will go forth and be
 A lying spirit in his prophets’ mouths.”
 And the Lord said, “Thou shalt. Go forth and do so.”
 Behold the Lord hath put a lying spirit
 Into thy prophets’ mouths, and spoken evil
 Not good to you.

 PROPHET.

 You think God’s truth has passed from me to you.
 When did it pass, and how?

 MICAIAH.

                            You will know that
 When you shall go into an inner chamber
 To hide yourself.

 AHAB.

                   Carry this fellow to the Governor,
 And have him into prison in the dark,
 And let his bread and drink be bitterness
 Until I come in peace.

 MICAIAH.

                        If you return at all
 In peace, the spirit has not spoken by me.
 Hearken, O people, every one of you.

 AHAB.

                                      Have him away.

 MICAIAH.

 Which story is the likelier to be true,
 Mine, which when told brings prison, or this fellow’s
 Which earns the King’s reward? The truth is dangerous.

 JORAM.

 You’ll find this dangerous. Away with him!
                                                  (_He is dragged out._)

 JEHU.

 That shows how close your enemies can come.
 Even to your very court.

 JORAM.

                          He should be silenced.

 AHAB.

 He is a gallant fellow, without judgment.
 But he presumes too much, he and his dreams.

 PROPHET.

 (_Crying aloud._) O King, a vision is vouchsafed to me!
 I see! I see! Hearken to what I see.
 I see a red bull trampling down God’s foes;
 He neezes fire and all his fell is fire;
 His shoulder is a mountain rough with forest;
 His eye the wrath of God; he stamps the cities.
 Go up against the Syrians, like this bull.

 JORAM.

 There is the voice of God.

 JEHU.

                            Ay, truly, Prince.

 AHAB.

 Since God declares that we should make this war,
 Which we, as men, have shrunk from hitherto,
 Although provoked by countless insolence,
 Now hearken to the utterance of the crown.

_Enter_ JEZEBEL.

 JEZEBEL.

 Ay, hearken to the utterance of the crown.
 You are all come to hear a war declared.
 Now I, the crown, declare it unto you.
 I declare war upon our enemies.
 They are all present, standing in this place,
 Waiting the execution of our sword.
 (_To_ PROPHET.) This man, the madman from the desert, first,
 Who rages like a desert-storm, that kills
 With sand, burning hot sand, pitiless sand.
 (_To_ JORAM.) This next, the hater of his house, our son,
 Who, for a wound that pains him would be glad
 That thousand others should be sick with wounds.
 (_To_ JEHU.) Then, next, this other man, not mad not sick,
 Not even suspected; honoured, trusted, loved.
 This man, the rider to the inn at Springs,
 For secret evil. Hark! This man, King Ahab,
 Murdered our son and plots to murder you.
 Seize him, King Ahab, ere it be too late.

 AHAB.

 Murdered our son? But this is childishness.

 JEZEBEL.

 No, I bring proof; the rod, the rod he holds,
 Was found at Springs, to prove that he was there.

 JEHU.

 This rod, good Madam?

 JEZEBEL.

                       Even that very rod.

 AHAB.

 Who found it at the Springs? Who brought it here?

 JEZEBEL.

 A rider, lord, who gave it to Micaiah.

 JORAM.

 What rider?

 AHAB.

             Yes, what rider, can you tell?

 JEZEBEL.

 One who would not be known, Micaiah said.

 AHAB.

 Micaiah! He?

 JORAM.

              The man imprisoned here.

 JEHU.

 My lord, I grieve less at this ill suspicion
 Than at the sad disaster which has caused it.

 JEZEBEL.

 You killed my son most foully at the inn;
 You were seen riding thither before noon,
 And left your rod there while you did the deed,
 Upon these flowers which my son had gathered;
 These desert flowers.

 JEHU.

 My Lord and King, I can most clearly prove
 That I was at my quarters all the morning.
 This rod I missed this morning from my quarters
 And found it here on entering but now.
 Prince Joram saw me find it as I entered.

 JORAM.

 That is most true; I did.
 Mother, you should not be here; come away.

 JEZEBEL.

 My lord, my King, my husband, listen to me.
 You know me, whether I am mad or no.
 I am not mad; but Ahaziah’s spirit
 Came to me here, stood where his murderer stands,
 Less than an hour ago, denouncing him,
 His murderer, and traitor to yourself.
 I, knowing this, see to the soul of things,
 And cry, if you be man, attack this traitor,
 Tear out his wicked plottings and destroy him.

 AHAB.

 Let the Queen’s women come. I hear your charges
 Brought with more passion than with evidence.
 These are our friends, our proven soldier, Jehu,
 Our son, and this, the prophet of the spirit,
 Not what you think. See, here your women come.
 Tend the Queen’s majesty to her apartments.

 JEZEBEL.

 You think me mad, my inmost wisdom, mad.
 For the last time, for Ahaziah’s sake,
 For your sake, for the kingdom, for the crown,
 And for the sake of God who gives the crown,
 Believe what I have said against this Jehu.

 AHAB.

 I grieve that anyone should bring such charges.
 That you should bring them is an anguish to me.
 Go with your women hence, and try to rest.

 JEZEBEL.

 Prince Joram, will you give me your support?
 Thank you, my son.
                    Since no one will believe,
 I, here, the Queen, must act alone. I will.
                (_She snatches_ JORAM’S _knife and tries to kill_ JEHU.)
 Die, murderer of my son!

 JORAM (_catching her_).

                          I thought you’d try it.
 But I was ready for you. Come now, mother,
 You must go, rest. Come help her there, you women.
                                              (JEZEBEL _is helped off_.)
 It is my brother’s death that makes her thus.

 AHAB.

 It shakes us all. You understand, Duke Jehu,
 The cause of this, without my saying more.

 JEHU.

 My lord, I understand.
 But yet suggest some trial or enquiry
 Into my dealings.

 AHAB.

                   Do not think of it.
 For these unhappy things which bruise men’s hearts
 Tear women’s hearts across. Let us proceed.
 I declare war against the Syrians
 For breach of treaty. We will march at once.

 JORAM.

 Though wounded, I will march, for I’ll repay
 The Syrians what I owe. Come, prophet, spread
 The news throughout the city.

 PROPHET.

 I will declare God’s wrath against his enemies.
                                             (JORAM _and_ PROPHET _go_.)

 AHAB.

 Stay, Jehu, yet. You heard Micaiah’s dream.
 That was an evil omen for our war.

 JEHU.

 I do not think so. Why, what was the dream?
 _That there should seem to be no King to-day._
 Was not that it? The meaning is apparent:
 That you should wear disguise.

 AHAB.

                                Ha! Well suggested.

 JEHU.

 It is a wise precaution at the least.
 Some traitor may be plotting to destroy you,
 Some Syrian assassin may be here.
 So take Micaiah’s hint and wear no purple.

 AHAB.

 A good interpretation. I accept it
 So. I will march disguised.

 JEHU.

                             Much better so.

 AHAB.

 Micaiah did interpret for my death.

 JEHU.

 These thinkers are the enemies of war
 Because they are afraid. He wished to scare you,
 Let me unclasp the buckle of your cloak.
 Much wiser give no target to these archers;
 Wear the plain armour of a charioteer.

 AHAB.

 I will, Duke Jehu. Lie you there, my purple,
 Till I return to-night with victory.
 At sunset every night the Queen and I
 Go through the citron gardens to the kennels,
 To feed our Hittite wolf-hounds with raw flesh.
 To-night when we go feed them, we will go,
 As conquerors of Syria, through the city.
                                                           [_Exit_ AHAB.

 JEHU.

 Right, my good Lord. Yes, you shall be disguised;
 But this bright bird within the quiver here
 Will pierce through your disguise before to-night,
 And you shall feed the wolf-hounds, never fear;
 So shall your Queen, with royal flesh and raw.
                                       (_He puts on the King’s purple_,)
 _Oh, out in the desert, my spear and my bow.
   Will win me whatever I need;
 The wine and the oil that another did grow
   And the horse that another did breed._

 So away for the desert....
 Ay, I have trotted in your bodyguard
 Too long, by God!


CURTAIN.


SEVENTH CHORUS

ROSE-FLOWER.

 Queen Helen left those women of the wood,
   She clambered from her horse and stood again
 Even on the very hill where Troy had stood,
   Where tamarisk shrubs and broom-sprigs and wild grain
   Sprouted from bronze and rib-bones of men slain.

 There was the palace where her love had been;
   Stones blackened by the fire and misplac’d
   By roots of vines that fed upon the paste
 Of all the pride where she had lived a queen.

 Troy was no more than weeds and fire-flaked stone,
   But still the straits ran roaring to the south,
 And still the never-quiet winds were blown
   With scent of meadow-sweet from Simois’ mouth.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 Yet no Greeks were moving on the beaches,
   No galleys of the Greeks came oaring in,
   Nor did lancer scouts or parties ride the whin,
 Bringing in or checking convoys from the river’s upper reaches
   Where the forest pines begin.

 And the forges were all gone, and all the fires
   Of the camps and burnings of the dead.
 And the grinding of the bronze-shod chariot-tyres
     Rang no more.
     Both in city and on shore
 There were no more shouted orders, clash of arms, or marchers’ tread.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 All was manless now, uncared for; both the streams had left their
          courses.
   There was marsh where corn had grown of old, and there, where Paris
          lay,
 Was an apple-tree with fruit which fed the now wild Trojan horses,
     That with bright teeth bit each other;
     Earth made Greek and Trojan brother,
 All the passion that had raged there now was dead and gone away.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 Then she cried, “I caused the quarrel that brought death along these
          beaches,
   I alone made Troy this ruin, I alone, from haste of youth,
 From a women’s bent, that listens to a lie, if it beseeches;
   Now I stand here old and friendless, having nothing but the truth.”

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 There she stopped, for there before her, in the ruins, stood a
          stranger;
   “This is changed indeed,” he told her, “since I stood here once
          before:
 Then it flamed all red to heaven and it rang with death and danger,
   And I stood here with noble Agammemnon,
   In the thunder of the ending of the war.”

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 Something in the old man’s bearing made her start and catch her breath.
   “You are Nireus, friend,” she answered. “You are he who brought me
          here
   When my life and love were dear:
 Then I came to life and loving, now I come to grief and death.

 “There is no small grass, in plain or water,
   But grows from the body of one killed
 By the deadly love of me, who am Helen, Leda’s daughter:
   All the young and swift and lovely, all the quick of heart are
          stilled;
 I was cause of their going to the slaughter.

 “Daylong and nightlong their shadows pursue me with evil,
   Haunting my thought in the day, killing my rest in the night;
 Now they have drawn me here; their multitudinous devil
     Bids me die where I sinned.
     I hear their cry in the wind,
   I see their eyes in the light.”

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 Nireus answered, “Ah, not thus, not so, Queen Helen, surely,
   Are those who died for love of you, to win you or to keep!
 If they gave their lives, they gave them as a man gives frankly,
          purely,
     Without question, comment or complaint,
     The strong heart equal with the faint,
   All content to see your beauty and to tread hard ways to sleep.

 “Now they know that your beauty made them splendid,
   Splendid to the death; for I have seen,
 Seen and talked, beloved Helen, with the souls of those who ended
   In the ruins of this city that has been,
   And they praise your name, they count you still their Queen.

 “Now come with me, for the ship waits to receive you,
   The wind is fair for Syme; let us start.
 Here, where long ago I lost you, I retrieve you;
   Let us leave this town of broken heart
   For the peace of Syme Harbour and the mirth of Syme mart,
   And the calm of knowing sorrow at an end,
   And the quiet of the memory of a friend.”

 TOGETHER.

 Then they sailed for Syme Island, and the gods were with their going,
   For their beauty came upon them both, with youth and strength and
          peace;
 Now they rule and live forever in a spring forever blowing,
   High in Syme where the sun is bright and skylarks never cease.



FIFTH ACT


 ROSE-FLOWER.

 There is no rider, coming from the army,
 In sight yet, Madam. Shall we play again?
                                                          (_No answer._)

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 Come to the window. There. What white was that?

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 The wind lifting the dust.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

                           No. Yes, it was.
 Dust from a windflaw blowing down the glen.
 There is no rider, Madam. Shall we sing?
                                                          (_No answer._)

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 She is too stunned with sorrow to give orders.
 Shall we not sing to soothe her?

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

                                 Sing, then, you.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 Speak to her first.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

                     Madam----

 ROSE-FLOWER.

                               She will not answer;
 So speak some quiet thing.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 Men are like wind-vanes that forever swing;
 Men are like winds forever wavering;
 Men are like water; men are like the tide:
 Women, the rock they ebb from, do abide.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 She will not speak. See, it is sunset now.
 And now the drums begin upon the housetops,
 And all the plain spreads out, burningly clear.

 JEZEBEL.

 What is that noise of evil that I hear?

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 The prophet speaking in the market-place.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 All afternoon his voice has shouted evil.

 JEZEBEL.

 It is as red as blood within this room.
 They have gone out to war; is it not so?
 I have been thinking till it all seems plain.
 We are amusements only
 In mightier life than ours.
 God knows, we are not amusement to ourselves.
 I am no Queen. I have no son; no husband;
 No task, no place, and yet I covet news.
 Look, by the rocks, beyond the spur; you see?

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 A rider.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

         In a white cloak, with a lance.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 One of King Ahab’s lancers, if in white.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 Surely a rider from the army, Madam.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 Bringing good news, because he would not gallop
 Save with the news of triumph.

 JEZEBEL.

                               What he brings
 Will not be what we look for, because life
 Is unexpected, whether good or ill.
 And at the door by which a horror enters
 Another comes, a muffled one, a silent.
                                                (_There is a knocking._)
 Enter, without there!

 PHARMAS _enters_.

                       Yes? What is it, Pharmas?

 PHARMAS.

 The Presence will forgive my interruption.
 There is a woman in the outer court
 Asks that you grant her audience for a moment.

 JEZEBEL.

 Why should I grant her audience? Who is she?

 PHARMAS.

 She comes from Lower Egypt, as she says.

 JEZEBEL.

 What is her traffic with me?

 PHARMAS.

                             Madam, this.
 She brings cosmetics and Arabian gums.

 JEZEBEL.

 This is no time for such. I cannot see her.

 PHARMAS.

 May the great Presence pardon if I speak.
 I told her that you would not buy her gear
 At such a time, but she implored me still
 To beg you to admit her to your presence.

 JEZEBEL.

 Did she say why?

 PHARMAS.

                 Yes, Madam; because once
 Many long years ago she lived in Sidon,
 Her father being sutler to the guard,
 Your royal father’s bodyguardsmen, Madam.
 She says she looked upon your presence there,
 When you were a Princess. She does desire
 To see that prophecy of future beauty
 Fulfilled in you the Queen, if you the Queen
 Would graciously permit her eyes to feast
 Upon the sight of you.

 JEZEBEL.

                       So our pasts come
 To see what time had made of us. So be it.
 A word of Sidon would be beauty to me
 To-day. Let her come in.

 PHARMAS.

                         I will, O Splendour!
                                                                [_Exit._

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 Queen, is it wise to let a stranger come?

 JEZEBEL.

 No.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

     Then why see her?

 ROSE-FLOWER.

                       Would it not be better
 If, first, we questioned her?

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

                               Or searched for weapons?

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 She well might carry daggers.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

                               Or bring poison.

 JEZEBEL.

 No; let her come. I am involved in nets
 So close, that both the wise thing and unwise
 Are cords to catch me.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

                       She is here.

 PHARMAS (_entering with_ HAMUTAL).

                                   This way.
 Stand here until the Presence speaks to you.                   [_Exit._

 JEZEBEL.

 They tell me that you lived in Sidon once.

 HAMUTAL.

 Yes, lady, yes. I passed my childhood there.

 JEZEBEL.

 So. In which street or quarter was your home?

 HAMUTAL.

 The twisted stinking quarter of the poor,
 One where you never trod, near the fish-market.

 JEZEBEL.

 I trod there often, and its filthiest lane,
 Silvered with cat-gnawn droppings of the nets,
 Was blessed to me. It is blest in memory.

 HAMUTAL.

 Perhaps to others it is not so blest.
 I know my father starved there; so did I.
 That’s past. The question now is, Is the man
 Gone from the door?

 JEZEBEL.

                     The man who brought you here?
 Look.

 ROSE-FLOWER (_looking._)

 He has gone.

 JEZEBEL.

             Why should he not be gone?

 HAMUTAL.

 They are all spies here, every man of them.
 And I have come here, Madam, to say this:
 You are in instant danger of your life.

 JEZEBEL.

 From whom?

 HAMUTAL.

           I cannot say. I will not say.
 I do not rightly know; but they are wicked--
 Wicked and bold. Though others made them so.
 I have come here to help you to escape.

 JEZEBEL.

 I thank you for the thought, but first convince me
 That there is danger.
 I have lived here in danger twenty years.
 What horror comes to-day?

 HAMUTAL.

 Come to the window, Madam; but be hidden.
 Look here. You see the side gate of the palace?
 You see, behind the ruined wall, armed men?
 They watch that side gate lest you leave the palace.
 Now, on this side, see there, among those bushes,
 More men-at-arms, watching the royal gate.
 There at the water-gate are more armed men.
 And they are not your guards.

 JEZEBEL.

                               I see they are not.
 Then, while they watch for me, their friends are watching
 My husband in the army? Is it so?

 HAMUTAL.

 No, do not ask me, Madam; I know nothing.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 How could our Queen escape with the gate watched?
 This is some treason, Madam, to betray you
 Out of the palace, into savage hands.

 JEZEBEL.

 Let’s see her face. Ah! no, she is not that.
 Look, woman; many Queens have been betrayed
 Since men were ruled; betrayed to death and shame,
 Most foully, by their subjects, whom they trusted.
 There is no treachery on earth more devilish
 To brand men blacker or to rake the heart worse.
 You would not be the one to tempt me forth
 To death and shame among my enemies?

 HAMUTAL.

 Madam, I swear I would not.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

                             We could call
 The palace guards.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 Yes, call the palace guards and question her.

 HAMUTAL.

 Come to the doorway, Madam.
 You hear the sounds below? Your palace guards
 Are being feasted by your enemies;
 Women and drink have overcome your guards.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 Then how can she escape?

 HAMUTAL.

                         The little door--
 The little, secret, unsuspected door
 Under the stair, leads to a passage-way
 Straight to the stables. I have brought the keys.

 JEZEBEL.

 You are my steward’s wife, then? No one else
 Could know about the door.

 HAMUTAL.

                           Oh, hurry, hurry!
 What matter who I am? You are the Queen.
 You will find horses ready in the stables
 For you and for your women. From the stables
 You can escape, the postern is unlockt.

 JEZEBEL.

                                        And you?
 What kind of life awaits you, after this?

 HAMUTAL.

 A better kind of life than you have made
 For poor folk.

 JEZEBEL.

               Ah! fine words; but ten years hence,
 Nay, two years, one year, hence, you will remember
 My queenship as a dream, a golden dream.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 O Madam, take the keys; do not delay.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 The men outside are beating at the gate.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 Look, Madam, they have scrambled from the bushes
 And beat upon the bars.

 HAMUTAL.

 O Heaven! Hark!

 JEZEBEL.

                 What is it?

 HAMUTAL.

                             Listen! Listen!
 Come from the door.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

                     What did you think you heard?

 HAMUTAL.

 Come nearer me.

 JEZEBEL.

                 I am not terrified.
 Draw a deep breath and tell us what it is.

 HAMUTAL.

 I think that someone is outside the door,
 Listening to what we say.

 JEZEBEL.

                           Be still a moment.

 HAMUTAL.

 It is a man.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

             There is a noise of armour.

 MOON-FLOWER.

 Someone is breathing deeply just outside.

 HAMUTAL.

 What shall I do? What shall I do? O Heaven.

 JEZEBEL.

 Help her to veil. Treat her as one of you;
 Cover her features with the gossamer,
 Now let her hurry to the passage yonder.
                                                        [_Exit_ HAMUTAL.

 We will be ridded of uncertainty.
 Is anyone behind the door there? Enter.
                              (_She goes back and flings open the door._
                                 PASHUR _is there. He comes in._)
 Who are you, fellow? And what brings you here?

 PASHUR.

 A messenger, with news. And who are you?

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 She is your Queen, so speak with reverence.

 PASHUR.

 A Queen! God spare us: soldiers own no Queen.
 But you shall hear my story, Queen or no.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 Is the King dead? Speak! Is King Ahab dead?

 PASHUR.

 Learn to respect a royal messenger.
 Ay, it has been a hot day’s work to-day.

 JEZEBEL.

 If you be from the King, tell us your story.

 PASHUR.

 Ay, I am from the King. That is God’s truth.
 And I have ridden out, and fought, and ridden
 Back to this city, and the whole world sways
 As from the falling shoulders of a horse.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 So the King lives! Thank God!

 PASHUR.

                               Yes, the King lives.
 And give God praise, because of victory.

 JEZEBEL.

 I give God praise.

 PASHUR.

                   Queen, it has been a day.
 Think for a moment what this day has been.
 We marched this morning with our banners waving,
 With the prophets raving, and the trumpets blowing,
 With the charioteers of the King of Judah,
 And the spears of the King, a thousand men.
 We came to Ramoth when they least expected,
 While they slept the noontide and thought it peace.
 There we paid back upon the Syrians
 A little of what we owed, by God.

 JEZEBEL.

 You mean, they did not know that there was war?

 PASHUR.

 They knew it well enough before we ended.
 You see these blackened ashes mixed with blood,
 That is what Ramoth and her people are.
 The King gave order you should see the work.
 You see, ashes and blood; by God, I love them.
 But that is not the message that I bring.
 I bring a message about good King Ahab,
 Who rode into the battle in his chariot
 Against the chariots of Syria.
 Keep yourselves quiet, Syrians, while I tell.
 There was a man, who shall be nameless,
 Who shall be blameless, or praised aloud,
 He with an arrow shot King Ahab
 Beneath the arm in the armour joint.

 JEZEBEL.

 He was behind the King, then, when he shot.

 PASHUR.

 He wished his work to be successful, lady.

 JEZEBEL.

 So the King died?

 PASHUR.

                   The Queen knows everything.
 He did not die at once, but bled to death,
 Down in the shadow of the willow trees.
 His blood dripped from his chariot; the dogs licked it,
 Even as the Teshbon prophet did foretell.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 Let us mourn for the King, for the cedar fallen,
 For the eagle fallen from heaven, for the burnt-out fire.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

 For the light that shone and is dark, for the word spoken.
 For the strength unknit, for the crown brought to the mire.

 JEZEBEL.

 My King is dead! I knew that he was dead.
 Have you declared this news to any yet?

 PASHUR.

 Not yet.

 JEZEBEL.

         Then go; declare it to the priests,
 That they may now declare it to the people:
 The King is dead and now his son is King;
 King Joram is the King in Israel.

 PASHUR.

 You are too quick. Joram is not the King.
 Jehu, anointed by the Prophet’s oil,
 Has killed your Joram with an arrow shot
 Under his arm, and out right through his heart,
 Killing him in his chariot as he drove.
 And he has killed his ally, and has flung
 Your Joram’s body, bloody as it is,
 Down into Naboth’s vineyard, to the dogs.
 Now Bidkar, captain of the charioteers,
 Drives the good Jehu hither to be crowned.
 Jehu is King, and you, you scarlet whore,
 Abominable in the face of God,
 You manless, soulless, crownless foreigner,
 Shall taste the wrath of God and of God’s people.
 Now for your spicery there shall be stink,
 And where the delicate hair has known the comb
 There shall be baldness, and where silk has lain
 There shall be nakedness.
 And where the red lips mocked God delicately
 There shall be broken teeth biting on dust:
 It shall be done to you ere this day passes.
                                                         [_Exit_ PASHUR.

 JEZEBEL.

 My King, my sons, are killed! So Jehu wins.
 Thus in an hour the world slips from the feet.
 What change beyond this world summons us home?
 What conclave of the spirits?
                               Dead: all three.
 Bring me my jewels from the tiring-room.
                             [_The_ MAIDS _go, then return with casket_.

 You women, who were with me from the first,
 Jehu is coming here to murder me.
 He will be here in some few minutes now.
 Yet there may still be time for you to go.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 And time for you, O Queen; you could fly too.
 Put on these veils. Oh, hurry! We will take
 The door the woman told of, and the horses,
 And be in safety on the coast by dawn.

 JEZEBEL.

 I am the daughter of a Queen, my friends.
 My life has been here and my death shall be
 Near to my dead. But one task more, my friends.
 Swift, from within, my cases of cosmetics,
 My crownets and the settings for my hair,
 The purple chlamys with the spangs of gold
 That long ago my father won at Rhodes,
 The robe that once the great Queen Helen had
 When she was beauty’s self, and gave her beauty
 To buy a little love in windy Troy.
                                         (_The_ MAIDS _bring the gear_.)
 That is the last task you shall do for me.
                                                       (_Gives jewels._)
 And this the last least gift that I can give,
 With all my thanks for service you have done me,
 Year in, year out, for many bitter years.
 I think no Queen has ever been so served.
 Courage. Here is the key; draw your veils close.

 ROSE-FLOWER.

 O mistress, come with us!

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

                           Beloved mistress!
 What will they do to us, what will they do?

 JEZEBEL.

 Nothing. They will not find you. You will go
 Down through the secret door and so away.
 Master your tears. You, take her by the arm.
 You will be sailing up the coast to Sidon
 By sunrise; think.

 MOON-BLOSSOM.

                    And where will you be, lady?

 JEZEBEL.

 As it is written for me.
 (_To_ ROSE-FLOWER.)      Sister. Friend.
 When you reach Sidon, greet the King, my father,
 And give him this, and bid him consecrate
 A stone for me. Now go. The gods go with you.
                                                    [_The_ MAIDENS _go_.

 I will prepare myself for burial,
 Since but a little time remains to me.
 There is the dust of Jehu’s charioting;
 The two Assyrian stallions which we gave him
 Coming to end my house.
                         But first, those women.
 Hush! All is still. They must have reached the stable.
 That woman spoke the truth, the way was clear.
 There is no noise of men arresting them.
 The guards are still. Thus far they must be safe.
 There is no sound; and see, those men are quiet.
 O gods, send messengers to make them safe!
 Ay, there they go, on horseback. They are free.
 Now let me pray. “O thou great fire of life,
 Of whom all lives of men are but the sparks,
 Take back this spark into the fire that burns
 In the great sun, in all the lesser suns,
 In the suns’ moons, and everything that lives
 In wild blood, and the pushing of the spring;
 And if my ways were darkness, give me darkness,
 And if my ways were brightness, give me light.”
 Now I will decorate myself for death,
 As once before, when I was crowned a bride
 Here to the King.
                   First, with this pencil, I
 Darken my brows, because they go to death.
 And make my eyes bright, since I join my husband
 And go again to look upon my sons.
 Next I will set this scarlet on my lips,
 And on my cheek, lest men should think me pale
 And say that I, the Queen, am pale from fear.
 Now I will draw Queen Helen’s robe about me.
 This golden bird is Helen’s very hair
 That Paris kissed in Troy, my father told me.
 Lastly, I will make consecrate my hair
 With royal gold, for I will die a Queen.
 Now am I as the beauty that I was,
 When in my father’s palace near the sea
 The princes of the Islands came to court me,
 Phorbas, and Kreon, and Andemakos,
 Kings of the Islands, bright-eyed from the sea,
 Men who had gone as strangers to strange lands,
 And there made friends by something kindling in them:
 Not like this Queen whom once they courted there.
 Where are they now, those men who loved me once?
 Perhaps alive still in their island homes.
 Decked with the precious things of half the world,
 And thinking of me sometimes, as men do
 Think of old loves long over utterly.
 And Tsor of Mura, whom I might have married,
 Had I been wise. He will still think of me.
 Now will I bare my throat that they may kill me.
 How the blood beats that soon will cease to beat!
 Poor servant blood, that kept this flesh alive
 Knowing not why, and now shall serve no more
 This captive soul that was an earthly Queen.
 And I without this servant shall not know
 The hour of pain, the sleepless night, the day
 Anxious as fever with this troublous world;
 Shall know, it may be, nothing more forever,
 Or know, it may be, all things burningly,
 Know god the spirit as a lover would.
 Now I will look if those who come to kill
 Are on their way.                                   (_Goes to window._)
                   O prison of a city
 Which I have hated! Little evil lanes,
 Filthy with dogs and lepers and blind men
 Made eyeless by the flies. O nest of vipers,
 Within few moments I shall pass from you.
 Once an Egyptian told me that at death
 The soul has power to will its resting-place:
 So do I will that I be far from here,
 At Sidon on a hilltop near the sea,
 Looking at Kittim at a sun-setting,
 When all the peaks rise up like crowns of gods
 And flame with the gods’ thoughts. And past those peaks,
 Beyond, in the imagined, never seen,
 Behind its reef of rocks, and beautiful
 With marble and with wonders and with waters,
 Is Mura, where my lover was a King.
 But hark, they come. I would go forth to Sidon.
 To Sidon, or to Kittim, or to Mura,
 Some place of the sea-princes near the sea.
 I would go forth to Sidon or to Mura,
 To Mura, or to Sidon, or to Kittim---
                                                          (_She sings._)
 The April moon is in the sky,
 Last night I heard the wild geese cry.
                   _Oh, ho!_

 The brooks are bright on Lebanon,
 The rain has come, the snows are gone.
                   _Oh, ho!_

 The north wind faints and soon the south
 Will blow the spice smell in the mouth.
                   _Oh, ho!_

 Then shall my bird the ship take wing
 And sail the green seas with the King,
 And find, maybe, a finer thing
 Than any here.
                   _Oh, ho!_

_Enter_ PHARMAS _and_ ASHOBAL.

 PHARMAS.

 Madam, King Jehu and his men are come:
 They ask to see you at the window yonder.

 JEHU (_outside._)

 Come out, you Jezebel, and taste God’s judgment,
 So that this land which you have wrecked may find
 Some little peace!

 JEZEBEL.

                   Had Zimri peace
 Who killed his master?

 JEHU.

 Let me see this whore!
                                          (_He clambers up to look in._)
                        And who is with her?
                                    (_Speaks to_ PHARMAS _and_ ASHOBAL.)
 Who is on my side?
 Who of you men within are for King Jehu?

 PHARMAS _and_ ASHOBAL.

 We are, great King!

 JEHU.

                     Then throw her down to me.
 Seize her and throw her down

 ASHOBAL _and_ PHARMA (_together._)

                               Down with you, Mistress
                                                     (_Throw her down._)

 JEHU.

 Get up, you horses. Would you shrink from flesh?
 Tread her; come up, you; over her; once more.
 Tread her again. I’ll teach you who is master.
 Ride over her, you fellows, every one.
 Ride over her and trample on her body;
 Let the beasts kick her. That’s the way. Again.
 You tread the harlot who has wrecked this land.
 Come here and hold my horses, one of you.
 Give me a hand, you men, and let me in.

_Enter_ JEHU (_by the window_).

 That’s made an end of her, the filthy witch!

 PHARMAS.

 I stabbed her with a knife before I threw her.

 JEHU.

 You, did you? Well, then fetch me wine to drink,
 In the King’s cup, by God. So. Give it here.
                                                             (_Drinks._)
 I needed drink after this day of fighting.
 A hot day’s work, but, by the living God,
 To-morrow shall be hotter. Ahab’s sons,
 And Ahab’s friends, and Ahab’s ministers
 Shall have their heads in baskets by to-morrow.
 Where is this man who says he killed the Queen?

 PHARMAS.

 Here, mighty King.

 JEHU.

                   Go, find the cursed hag
 And bury up her carrion in the earth,
 For after all she was a King’s daughter.
                                                        [_Exit_ PHARMAS.

 JEHU (_sings_).

 _Oh, out in the desert my bow and my spear
        Shall win me whatever I need,
    Another man’s tent, and another man’s gear,
        And another man’s...._

 Fill me more wine. Go to the window yonder.
 Halt. As you were. I’ll go myself. You, fellow.
 You fellow, there. Is the Queen’s body there?
 What does he say?

 ASHOBAL.

 He says that the wild dogs have torn the body.

 JEHU.

 Good enough end and fitting burial for her.
 Now I have sacrifice to do to Baal.
 By God, a lusty sacrifice! By God,
 These damned idolaters shall learn the truth!
 None of your knives on me.                                 [_Goes out._

                                     [_The_ SERVANTS _and_ MEN _go out_.

_Enter_ MICAIAH (_from in front_).

 MICAIAH.

 She was too good a woman to be Queen
 In such a land as this, at such a time.
 Would she had gone! Her women have escaped.
 And I am freed from prison by the rabble.

     Wisdom is gone from the city,
       The killer alone is obeyed,
     A man without law, without pity,
       Who was fed by the King he betrayed.
       The debt that was owing is paid,
     By a new deed of murder that cries
     To the gods who are Kings in the skies.
     Though the ways of the gods are most wise,
       They are dark, they make me afraid.


CURTAIN.



Transcriber’s Notes


Simple typographical errors were corrected.

Page 52: Transcriber added “are” to “But there are other laws which do
persist”, as its omission seems to be a typographical error, and it was
found in other books containing this play.

Page 71: “And of both the men who had me neither knew me” ended with an
em dash in a different copy of this play.

Page 99: “Agammemnon” was printed that way in this edition.

Page 112: “I am not terrified.” ended with a question mark in the
source book, but should end with a period, as it does in this eBook.





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