Part 2 out of 4
money, and the toll on the camels was what
they call the security. They always carry
gold and turquoise, you know.
Yes, they get it from the rivers.
It does seem a shame his not paying,
A shame? I should think it is. An awful
shame. Why, it's a crying shame. He ought
to go to prison.
Yes, he ought. But you see it's so hard
to find him. It isn't as if it was this side of
Persia. It's being on the other side that is
such a pity. If only it was in a country like,
like . . .
I'd soon find him. I'd . . . Why, a man
like that deserves anything.
It is good of you to say that.
Why, I'd . . . And you say you never
got a penny?
Well, that is a shame. I call that a
Now, what ought I to do?
Do? Well, now, you know in business
there's nothing like being on the spot. When
you're on the spot you can--but then, of
course, it's so far.
It is, isn't it?
Still, I think you should go if you could.
If only I could offer to help you in any way,
I would gladly, but of course . . .
What would you do?
I'd go and find that Hussein fellow; and
then . . .
Why, I'd tell him a bit about the law, and
make him see that you didn't keep all that
money that belonged to someone else.
Would you really?
Nothing would please me better.
Would you really? Would you go all that
It's just the sort of thing that I should like,
apart from the crying shame. The man
ought to be . . .
We're getting into Holborn. Would you
come and lunch somewhere with me and talk
Gladly. I'd be glad to help. I've got to
see a man on business first. I've come up to
see him. And then after that, after that
there was something I wanted to do after that.
I can't think what it was. But something I
wanted to do after that. O, heavens, what
Can't you think?
No. O, well, it can't have been so very
important. And yet . . . Well, where shall
Right. What time?
One-thirty. Would that suit?
Perfectly. I'd like to get a man like
Hussein in prison. I'd like . . . O, I beg your
[He hurries to open the door. Exit
Now what was it I wanted to do
[Throws hand to forehead.]
O, never mind.
JOHN's tent in Al Shaldomir. There
are two heaps of idols, left and right, lying
upon the ground inside the tent. DAOUD
carries another idol in his arms. JOHN
looks at its face.
Six months have elapsed since the scene
in the second-class railway carriage.
This god is holy.
[He points to the left heap. DAOUD
carries it there and lays it on the heap.]
Yes, great master.
You are in no wise to call me great master.
Have not I said so? I am not your master.
I am helping you people. I know better than
you what you ought to do, because I am
English. But that's all. I'm not your master,
Yes, great master.
O, go and get some more idols. Hurry.
Great master, I go.
I can't make these people out.
I have three gods.
JOHN BEAL [looking at their faces, pointing to
the two smaller idols first]
These two are holy. This one is unholy.
Yes, great master.
Put them on the heap.
[DAOUD does so, two left, one right.]
Get some more.
[DAOUD salaams. Exit.]
[Looking at right heap.] What a--what a
[Enter DAOUD with two idols.]
JOHN BEAL [after scrutiny]
This god is holy, this is unholy.
[Enter ARCHIE BEAL, wearing a "Bowler"
Why, ARCHIE, this is splendid of you!
You've come! Why, that's splendid! All
Yes, I've come. Whatever are you doing?
ARCHIE, it's grand of you to come! I never
ought to have asked it of you, only . . .
O, that's all right. But what in the world
are you doing?
ARCHIE, it's splendid of you.
O, cut it. That's all right. But what's all
O, this. Well, well they're the very oddest
people here. It's a long story. But I wanted
to tell you first how enormously grateful I
am to you for coming.
O, that's all right. But I want to know
what you're doing with all these genuine
Well, ARCHIE, the fact of it is they're a real
odd lot of people here. I've learnt their
language, more or less, but I don't think I quite
understand them yet. A lot of them are
Mahommedans; they worship Mahommed,
you know. He's dead. But a lot of them
worship these things, and . . .
Well, what have you got 'em all in here
Yes, that's just it. I hate interfering with
them, but, well, I simply had to. You see
there's two sorts of idols here; they offer
fruit and rats to some of them; they lay them
on their hands or their laps.
Why do they offer them rats?
O, I don't know. They don't know either.
It's the right thing to do out here, it's been
the right thing for hundreds of years; nobody
exactly knows why. It's like the bows we
have on evening shoes, or anything else.
But it's all right.
Well, what are you putting them in heaps
Because there's the other kind, the ones
with wide mouths and rust round them.
Rust? Yes, so there is. What do they
They offer blood to them, ARCHIE. They
pour it down their throats. Sometimes they
kill people, sometimes they only bleed them.
It depends how much blood the idol wants.
How much blood it wants? Good Lord!
How do they know?
The priests tell them. Sometimes they
fill them up to their necks--they're all hollow,
you know. In spring it's awful.
Why are they worse in spring?
I don't know. The priests ask for more
blood then. Much more. They say it always
And you're stopping it?
Yes, I'm stopping these. One must. I'm
letting them worship those. Of course, it's
idolatry and all that kind of thing, but I
don't like interfering short of actual murder.
And they're obeying you?
'M, y-yes. I think so.
You must have got a great hold over them.
Well, I don't know about that. It's the
pass that counts.
Yes, that place you came over. It's the
only way anyone can get here.
Yes, I suppose it is. But how does the pass
affect these idols?
It affects everything here. If that pass
were closed no living man would ever enter
or leave, or even hear of, this country. It's
absolutely cut off except for that one pass.
Why, ARCHIE, it isn't even on the map.
Yes, I know.
Well, whoever owns that pass is everybody.
No one else counts.
And who does own it?
Well, it's actually owned by a fellow called
Hussein, but Miss Clement's uncle, a man
called Hinnard, a kind of lonely explorer,
seems to have come this way; and I think he
understood what this pass is worth.
Anyhow, he lent Hussein a big sum of money and
got an acknowledgment from Hussein. Old
Hinnard must have been a wonderfully
shrewd man. For that acknowledgment is
no more legal than an I.O.U., and Hussein
is simply a brigand.
Not very good security.
Well, you're wrong there. Hussein himself
respects that piece of parchment he signed.
There's the name of some god or other written
on it Hussein is frightened of. Now you
see how things are. That pass is as holy as
all the gods that there are in Al Shaldomir.
Hussein possesses it. But he owes an
enormous sum to Miss Miralda Clement, and I am
here as her agent; and you've come to help
me like a great sportsman.
O, never mind that. Well, it all seems
Well, I don't know, ARCHIE. Hussein
admits the debt, but . . .
I don't know what he'll do.
Wants watching, does he?
Yes. And meanwhile I feel sort of
responsible for all these silly people.
Somebody's got to look after them. Daoud!
Bring in some more gods.
Yes, great master.
I can't get them to stop calling me absurd
titles. They're so infernally Oriental.
He's got two big ones this time.
JOHN BEAL [to ARCHIE]
You see, there is rust about their mouths.
[To DAOUD]: They are both unholy.
[He points to R. heap, and DAOUD
puts them there. To DAOUD.]
Bring in some more.
Great master, there are no more gods in
It is well.
What orders, great master.
Listen. At night you shall come and take
these gods away. These shall be worshipped
again in their own place, these you shall cast
into the great river and tell no man where you
Yes, great master.
You will do this, Daoud?
Even so, great master.
I am sorry to make you do it. You are
sad that you have to do it. Yet it must be
Yes, I am sad, great master.
But why are you sad, Daoud?
Great master, in times you do not know
these gods were holy. In times you have not
guessed. In old centuries, master, perhaps
before the pass. Men have prayed to them,
sorrowed before them, given offerings to
them. The light of old hearths has shone on
them, flames from old battles. The shadow
of the mountains has fallen on them, so
many times, master, so many times. Dawn
and sunset have shone on them, master, like
firelight flickering; dawn and sunset, dawn
and sunset, flicker, flicker, flicker for century
after century. They have sat there watching
the dawns like old men by the fire. They are
so old, master, so old. And some day dawn
and sunset will die away and shine on the
world no more, and they would have still
sat on in the cold. And now they go. . .
They are our history, master, they are our old
times. Though they be bad times they are
our times, master; and now they go. I am
sad, master, when the old gods go.
But they are bad gods, Daoud.
I am sad when the bad gods go.
They must go, Daoud. See, there is no
one watching. Take them now.
Even so, great master.
[He takes up the largest of the gods with
Come, Aho-oomlah, thou shalt not drink
Was Nideesh to have been sacrificed?
He was to have been drunk by Aho-oomlah.
Nideesh. Who is he?
He is my son.
[Exit with Aho-oomlah.
JOHN BEAL almost gasps.]
ARCHIE BEAL [who has been looking round
What has he been saying?
They're--they're a strange people. I
can't make them out.
Is that the heap that oughtn't to be
Well, do you know, I'm going to chuck this
hat there. It doesn't seem to me somehow to
be any more right here than those idols would
be at home. Odd isn't it? Here goes.
[He throws hat on right heap of idols. JOHN
BEAL does not smile.]
Why, what's the matter?
I don't like to see a decent Christian hat
among these filthy idols. They've all got
rust on their mouths. I don't like to see
it, Archie; it's sort of like what they call
an omen. I don't like it.
Do they keep malaria here?
I don't think so. Why?
Then what's the matter, Johnny? Your nerves
You don't know these people, and I've brought
you out here. I feel kind of responsible.
If Hussein's lot turn nasty you don't
know what he'd do, with all those idols and
He'll give 'em a drink, you mean.
Don't, ARCHIE. There's no saying. And I
feel responsible for you.
Well, they can have my hat. It looks
silly, somehow. I don't know why. What
are we going to do?
Well, now that you've come we can go
Righto. What at?
We've got to see Hussein's accounts, and
get everything clear in black and white, and
see just what he owes to Miss Miralda
But they don't keep accounts here.
How do you know?
Why, of course they don't. One can see
But they must.
Well, you haven't changed a bit for your
six months here.
No. Just quietly thinking of business.
You'll be a great business man, Johnny.
But we must do business; that's what I
came here for.
You'll never make these people do it.
Well, what do you suggest?
Let's have a look at old Hussein.
Yes, that's what I have been waiting for.
Go to the palace of the Lord of the pass
and beat on the outer door. Say that I
desire to see him. Pray him to come to my
[DAOUD bows and Exit.]
[To ARCHIE.] I've sent him to the palace
to ask Hussein to come.
Lives in a palace, does he?
Yes, it's a palace, it's a wonderful place.
It's bigger than the Mansion House, much.
And you're going to teach him to keep
Well, I must. I hate doing it. It seems
almost like being rude to the Lord Mayor.
But there's two things I can't stand--cheating
in business is one and murder's another.
I've got to interfere. You see, if one happens
to know the right from wrong as we do, we've
simply got to tell people who don't. But
it isn't pleasant. I almost wish I'd never
Why, it's the greatest sport in the world.
I don't see it that way. To me those idols
are just horrid murder. And this man owes
money to this girl with no one to look after
her, and he's got to pay. But I hate being
rude to a man in a place like the Mansion
House, even if he is black. Why, good Lord,
who am I? It seems such cheek.
I say, Johnny, tell me about the lady. Is
What, Miss Miralda? Yes.
But what I mean is--what's she like?
Oh, I don't know. It's very hard to say.
She's, she's tall and she's fair and she's got
Yes, but I mean what kind of a person is
she? How does she strike you?
Well, she's pretty hard up until she gets
this money, and she hasn't got any job that's
any good, and no real prospects bar this,
and nobody particular by birth, and doesn't
know anybody who is, and lives in the least
fashionable suburb and can only just afford
a second-class fare and . . .
Yes, yes, go on.
And yet somehow she sort of seems like
a--like a queen.
Lord above us! And what kind of a queen?
O, I don't know. Well, look here, ARCHIE,
it's only my impression. I don't know her
well yet. It's only my impression. I only
tell you in absolute confidence. You won't
pass it on to anybody, of course.
O, no. Go on.
Well, I don't know, only she seemed more
like well, a kind of autocrat, you know,
who'd stop at nothing. Well, no, I don't
mean that, only . . .
So you're not going to marry her?
Marry her! Good Lord, no. Why, you'd
never dare ask her. She's not that sort. I
tell you she's a sort of queen. And (Good
Lord!) she'd be a queen if it wasn't for
Hussein, or something very like one. We can't
go marrying queens. Anyhow, not one like
Why not one like her?
I tell you--she's a--well, a kind of goddess.
You couldn't ask her if she loved you. It
would be such, such . . .
Such infernal cheek.
I see. Well, I see you aren't in love with
her. But it seems to me you'll be seeing a
good deal of her some day if we pull this off.
And then, my boy-o, you'll be going and
getting in love with her.
I tell you I daren't. I'd as soon propose to
the Queen of Sheba.
Well, Johnny, I'm going to protect you
from her all I can.
Protect me from her? Why?
Why, because there's lots of other girls
and it seems to me you might be happier with
some of them.
But you haven't even seen her.
Nor I have. Still, if I'm here to protect
you I somehow think I will. And if I'm not
. . .
Well, and what then?
What nonsense I'm talking. Fate does
everything. I can't protect you.
Yes, it's nonsense all right, ARCHIE, but . . .
I am here.
[HUSSEIN enters. He is not unlike
JOHN BEAL [pointing to ARCHIE]
[ARCHIE shakes hands with HUSSEIN.
HUSSEIN looks at his hand when it is
over in a puzzled way. JOHN BEAL and
Hussein then bow to each other.]
You desired my presence.
I am honoured.
The white traveller, whom we call Hinnard,
lent you one thousand greater gold pieces,
which in our money is one hundred thousand
pounds, as you acknowledge. [Hussein
nods his head.] And every year you were to
pay him for this two hundred and fifty of your
greater gold pieces--as you acknowledge also.
And this you have not yet had chance to
pay, but owe it still.
And now Hinnard is dead.
Peace be with him.
His heiress is Miss Miralda Clement, who
instructs me to be her agent. What have you
Peace be with Hinnard.
You acknowledge your debt to this lady,
Miss Miralda Clement?
I know her not.
You will not pay your debt?
I will pay.
If you bring the gold to my tent, my
brother will take it to Miss Clement.
I do not pay to Miss Clement.
To whom do you pay?
I pay to Hinnard.
Hinnard is dead.
I pay to Hinnard.
How will you pay to Hinnard?
If he be buried in the sea . . .
He is not buried at sea.
If he be buried by any river I go to the god
He is buried on land near no river.
Therefore I will go to a bronze god of
earth, very holy, having the soil in his care
and the things of earth. I will take unto him
the greater pieces of gold due up to the year
when the white traveller died, and will melt
them in fire at his feet by night on the
mountains, saying, " O, Lruru-onn (this is his
name) take this by the way of earth to the
grave of Hinnard." And so I shall be free
of my debt before all gods.
But not before me. I am English. And
we are greater than gods.
What's that, Johnny?
He won't pay, but I told him we're English
and that they're greater than all his bronze
That's right, Johnny.
[HUSSEIN looks fiercely at ARCHIE.
He sees ARCHIE's hat lying before a big
idol. He points at the hat and looks in
the face of the idol.]
HUSSEIN [to the idol]
[He bows. Exit.]
What's that he's saying?
JOHN BEAL [meditatively]
He won't pay, oh?
No, not to Miss Miralda.
To one of his gods.
That won't do.
What'll we do?
I don't quite know. It isn't as if we were in
No, it isn't.
If we were in England . . .
I know; if we were in England you could
call a policeman. I tell you what it is,
I tell you what; you want to see more of
Why, because at the present moment our
friend Hussein is a craftier fellow than you,
and looks like getting the best of it.
How will seeing more of Miss Miralda help
Why, because you want to be a bit craftier
than Hussein, and I fancy she might make
We're mostly made what we are by some
woman or other. We think it's our own
cleverness, but we're wrong. As things are
you're no match for Hussein, but if you
altered . . .
Why, ARCHIE; where did you get all those
O, I don't know.
You never used to talk like that.
You haven't been getting in love, ARCHIE,
What are we to do about Hussein?
It's funny your mentioning Miss Miralda.
I got a letter from her the same day I got
What does she say?
I couldn't make it out.
What were her words?
She said she was going into it closer. She
underlined closer. What could she mean by
that? How could she get closer?
Well, the same way as I did.
How do you mean? I don't understand.
By coming here.
By coming here? But she can't come here.
Because it's impossible. Absolutely
impossible. Why--good Lord--she couldn't
come here. Why, she'd want a chaperon and
a house and--and--everything. Good Lord,
she couldn't come here. It would be--well
it would be impossible--it couldn't be done.
O, all right. Then I don't know what she
ARCHIE! You don't really think she'd come
here? You don't really think it, do you?
Well, it's the sort of thing that that sort of
girl might do, but of course I can't say . . .
Good Lord, ARCHIE! That would be awful.
Why? But what would I do? Where
would she go? Where would her chaperon
go? The chaperon would be some elderly
lady. Why, it would kill her.
Well, if it did you've never met her, so you
needn't go into mourning for an elderly lady
that you don't know; not yet, anyway.
No, of course not. You're laughing at me,
ARCHIE. But for the moment I took you
seriously. Of course, she won't come. One
can go into a thing closely without doing it
absolutely literally. But, good Lord, wouldn't
it be an awful situation if she did.
O, I don't know.
All alone with me here? No, impossible.
And the country isn't civilised.
Women aren't civilised.
Women aren't . . .? Good Lord, ARCHIE,
what an awful remark. What do you mean?
We're tame, they're wild. We like all the
dull things and the quiet things, they like
all the romantic things and the dangerous
Why, ARCHIE, it's just the other way about.
O, yes; we do all the romantic things, and
all the dangerous things. But why?
Why? Because we like them, I suppose.
I can't think of any other reason.
I hate danger. Don't you?
Er--well, yes, I suppose I do, really.
Of course you do. We all do. It's the
women that put us up to it. She's putting
you up to this. And the more she puts you
up to the more likely is Hussein to get it in his
But--but you don't mean you'd hurt
Hussein? Not--not badly, I mean.
We're under her orders, Johnny. See what
You, you don't really think she'll come
Of course I do, and the best thing too.
It's her show; she ought to come.
But, but you don't understand. She's
just a young girl, A girl like Miss Miralda
couldn't come out here over the pass and
down these mountains, she'd never stand it,
and as for the chaperon . . . You've
never met Miss Miralda.
No, Johnny. But the girl that was able to
get you to go from Bromley to this place can
look after herself.
I don't see what that's got to do with it.
She was in trouble and I had to help her.
Yes, and she'll be in trouble all the way
here from Blackheath, and everyone will have
to help her.
What beats me is how you can have the
very faintest inkling of what she's like
without ever having seen her and without my
having spoken of her to you for more than a
Well, Johnny, you're not a romantic bird,
you're not a traveller by nature, barring your
one trip to Eastbourne, and it was I that took
you there. And contrariwise, as they say in
a book you've never read, you're a
levelheaded business man and a hardworking
respectable stay-at-home. You meet a girl
in a train, and the next time I see you you're
in a place that isn't marked on the map and
telling it what gods it ought to worship and
what gods it ought to have agnosticism about.
Well, I say some girl.
Well, I must say you make the most
extraordinary deductions, but it was awfully good
of you to come, and I ought to be grateful;
and I am, too, I'm awfully grateful; and I
ought to let you talk all the rot you like. Go
ahead. You shall say what you like and do
what you like. It isn't many brothers that
would do what you've done.
O, that's nothing. I like this country.
I'm glad I came. And if I can help you with
Hussein, why all the better.
It's an awful country, Archie, but we've
got to see this through.
Does she know all about Hussein?
Yes, everything. I've written fully.
Al Shaldomir, Al Shaldomir,
The nightingales that guard thy ways . . .
JOHN BEAL [shouting|
O, go away, go away. [To ARCHIE.] I said
it was an awful country. They sit down
outside one's tent and do that kind of thing for
no earthly reason.
O, I'd let them sing.
O, you can't have people doing that kind of
OMAR [in doorway]
Master, I go.
But why do you come?
I came to sing a joyous song to you, master.
Why did you want to sing me a joyous
Because a lady is riding out of the West.
A lady out of . . . Good Lord!
She's coming, Johnny.
Coming? Good Lord, no, Archie. He said
a lady; there'd be the chaperon too. There'd
be two of them if it was Miss Miralda. But
he said a lady. One lady. It can't be her.
A girl like that alone in Al Shaldomir. Clean
off the map. Oh, no, it isn't possible.
I wouldn't worry.
Wouldn't worry? But, good Lord, the
situation's impossible. People would talk.
Don't you see what people would say? And
where could they go? Who would look after
them? Do try and understand how awful
it is. But it isn't. It's impossible. It can't
be them. For heaven's sake run out and see
if it is; and (good Lord!) I haven't brushed
my hair all day, and, and--oh, look at me.
[He rushes to camp mirror. Exit
JOHN BEAL tidies up desperately.
It's what you call THEM.
What I call THEM? Whatever do you
Well, it's her. She's just like what you said.
But it can't be. She doesn't ride. She can
never have been able to afford a horse.
She's on a camel. She'll be here in a
moment. [He goes to door.] Hurry up with that
hair; she's dismounted.
O, Lord! What's the chaperon like?
O, she's attending to that herself.
Attending to it herself? What do you
I expect she'll attend to most things.
[Enter HAFIZ EL ALCOLAHN in doorway
of tent, pulling back flap a little.]
Who are you?
I show the gracious lady to your tent.
[Enter MIRALDA CLEMENT, throwing
a smile to HAFIZ.]
Hullo, Mr. Beal.
Er--er--how do you do?
[She looks at ARCHIE.]
O, this is my brother--Miss Clement.
MIRANDA and ARCHIE BEAL
How do you do?
I like this country.
I'm afraid I hardly expected you.
No. You see er--it's such a long way.
And wasn't it very expensive?
Well, the captain of the ship was very kind
O! But what did you do when you landed?
O, there were some Arabs coming this way
in a caravan. They were really very good to
But the camel?
O, there were some people the other side of
the mountains. Everybody has been very
kind about it. And then there was the man
who showed me here. He's called Hafiz el
Alcolahn. It's a nice name, don't you think?
But, you know, this country, Miss
Clement, I'm half afraid it's hardly--isn't it,
Archie? Er--how long did you think of
O, a week or so.
I don't know what you'll think of Al
Shaldomir. I'm afraid you'll find it . . .
Oh, I like it. Just that hollow in the
mountains, and the one pass, and no record of it
anywhere. I like that. I think it's lovely.
You see, I'm afraid--what I mean is I'm
afraid the place isn't even on the map!
O, that's lovely of it.
All decent places are.
You mean if a place is on the map we've
got to behave accordingly. But if not, why . . .
Hussein won't pay.
Let's see Hussein.
I'm afraid he's rather, he's rather a
[ARCHIE is quietly listening and smiling
Enter DAOUD. He goes up to the
unholy heap and takes away two large idols,
one under each arm. Exit.]
What's that, Mr. Beal?
O, that. I'm afraid it's rather horrible.
I told you it was an awful country. They
pray to these idols here, and some are all
right, though of course it's terribly
blasphemous, but that heap, well, I'm afraid, well
that heap is very bad indeed.
What do they do?
They kill people.
Do they? How?
I'm afraid they pour their blood down those
Do they? How do you know?
I've seen them do it, and those mouths
are all rusty. But it's all right now. It
won't happen any more.
Won't it? Why not?
Well, I . . .
He's stopped them, Miss Clement. They're
all going to be thrown into the river.
Well, yes. I had to. So it's all right now.
They won't do it any more.
What, what is it? I promise you that's all
right. They won't do that any more.
H'm. I've never known anyone that tried
to govern a country or anything of that sort,
but . . .
Of course, I'm just doing what I can to put
them right.. . . I'd be very glad of your
advice. . . Of course, I'm only here in
What I mean is that I'd always thought
that the one thing you shouldn't do, if you
don't mind my saying so. . .
Was to interfere in people's
But, but I don't think you quite
understand. The priests knife these people in the
throat, boys and girls, and then acolytes
lift them up and the blood runs down. I've
I think it's best to leave religion to the
priests. They understand that kind of thing.
[JOHN BEAL opens his mouth in horror
and looks at ARCHIE. ARCHIE returns
the glance; there is very nearly a twinkle in
Let's see Hussein.
What do you think, Archie?
Poor fellow. We'd better send for him.
Why do you say "poor fellow"?
Oh, because he's so much in debt. It's
awful to be in debt. I'd sooner almost
anything happened to me than to owe a lot of
Your remark didn't sound very
O, I only meant that I'd hate to be in debt.
And I should hate owing money to you,
Because . . .
Because I should so awfully want to pay it.
That's all I meant.
Does Hussein awfully want to pay it?
Well, no. But he hasn't seen you yet. He
will then, of course.
[Enter DAOUD. He goes to the unholy
Daoud, for the present these gods must
stay. Aho-oomlah's gone, but the rest must
stay for the present.
Even so, great master.
Daoud, go once more to the palace of the