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If by Lord Dunsany

Part 3 out of 4

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Lord of the Pass and beat the outer door.
Say that the great lady herself would see him.
The great lady, Miss Clement, the white
traveller's heiress.

DAOUD

Yes, master.

JOHN BEAL

Hasten.

[Exit DAOUD.]

I have sent him for Hussein.

MIRALDA

I don't know their language.

JOHN BEAL

You will see him, and I'll tell you what he
says.

MIRALDA [to ARCHIE]

Have you been here long?

ARCHIE BEAL

No. I think he wrote to me by the same
mail as he wrote to you (if they have mails
here). I came at once.

MIRALDA

So did I; but you weren't on the Empress
of Switzerland.

ARCHIE BEAL

No, I came round more by land.

JOHN BEAL

You know, I hardly like bringing Hussein
in here to see you. He's such a--he's rather
a . . .

MIRALDA

What's the matter with him?

JOHN BEAL

Well, he's rather of the brigand type, and
one doesn't know what he'll do.

MIRALDA

Well, we must see him first and hear what
he has to say before we take any steps.

JOHN BEAL

But what do you propose to do?

MIRALDA

Why, if he pays me everything he owes, or
gives up the security . . .

JOHN BEAL

The security is the pass.

MIRALDA

Yes. If he gives up that or pays . . .

JOHN BEAL

You know he's practically king of the
whole country. It seems rather cheek almost
my sending for him like this.

MIRALDA

He must come.

JOHN BEAL

But what are you going to do?

MIRALDA

If he gives up the pass . . .

JOHN BEAL

Why, if he gives up the pass you'd be
you'd be a kind of queen of it all.

MIRALDA

Well, if he does that, all right. . .

JOHN BEAL

But what if he doesn't?

MIRALDA

Why, if he doesn't pay . . .

HUSSEIN [off]

I am here.

JOHN BEAL

Be seen.

[Enter HUSSEIN.]

HUSSEIN

Greeting once more.

JOHN BEAL

Again greeting.... The great lady,
Miss Clement, is here.

[HUSSEIN and MIRALDA look at each
other.]

You will pay to Miss Clement and not to
your god of bronze. On the word of an
Englishman, your god of bronze shall not have
one gold piece that belongs to the great lady!

HUSSEIN [looking contemptuous]

On the word of the Lord of the Pass, I only
pay to Hinnard.

[He stands smiling while MIRALDA
regards him. Exit.]

ARCHIE BEAL

Well?

JOHN BEAL

He won't pay.

ARCHIE BEAL

What are we to do now?

JOHN BEAL [to MIRALDA]

I'm afraid he's rather an ugly customer to
introduce you to like that. I'm sorry he came
now.

MIRALDA

O, I like him, I think he looks splendid.

ARCHIE BEAL

Well, what are we to do?

JOHN BEAL

Yes.

ARCHIE BEAL

What do you say, Miss Clement?

JOHN BEAL

Yes, what do you feel we ought to do?

MIRALDA

Well, perhaps I ought to leave all that to
you.

ARCHIE BEAL

O, no.

JOHN BEAL

No, it's your money. What do you think
we really ought to do?

MIRALDA

Well, of course, I think you ought to kill
Hussein.

[JOHN BEAL and ARCHIE BEAL look
at each other a little startled.]

JOHN BEAL

But wouldn't that--wouldn't that
be--murder?

MIRALDA

O, yes, according to the English law.

JOHN BEAL

I see; you mean--you mean we're not--but
we are English.

MIRALDA

I mean it wouldn't be murder--by your
law, unless you made it so.

JOHN BEAL

By my law?

MIRALDA

Yes, if you can interfere with their religion
like this, and none of them say a word,
why--you can make any laws you like.

JOHN BEAL

But Hussein is king here; he is Lord of the
Pass, and that's everything here. I'm nobody.

MIRALDA

O, if you like to be nobody, of course that's
different.

ARCHIE BEAL

I think she means that if Hussein weren't
there there'd be only you. Of course, I don't
know. I've only just come.

JOHN BEAL

But we can't kill Hussein!

[MIRALDA begins to cry.]

O Lord! Good heavens! Please, Miss
Clement! I'm awfully sorry if I've said
anything you didn't like. I wouldn't do that for
worlds. I'm awfully sorry. It's a beastly
country, I know. I'm really sorry you came.
I feel it's all my fault. I'm really awfully
sorry. . .

MIRALDA

Never mind. Never mind. I was so
helpless, and I asked you to help me. I never
ought to have done it. I oughtn't to have
spoken to you at all in that train without
being introduced; but I was so helpless. And
now, and now, I haven't a penny in the world,
and, O, I don't know what to do.

ARCHIE BEAL

We'll do anything for you, Miss Clement.

JOHN BEAL

Anything in the wide world. Please, please
don't cry. We'll do anything.

MIRALDA

I . . . I only, I only wanted to--to kill
Hussein. But never mind, it doesn't matter
now.

JOHN BEAL

We'll do it, Miss Clement, won't we,
Archie? Only don't cry. We'll do it. I--I
suppose he deserves it, doesn't he?

ARCHIE BEAL

Yes, I suppose he does.

JOHN BEAL

Well, all right, Miss Clement, that's settled.
My brother and I will talk it over.

MIRALDA [still sniping]

And--and--don't hang him or anything--he
looks so fine.... I--I wouldn't like
him treated like that. He has such a grand
beard. He ought to die fighting.

JOHN BEAL

We'll see what we can do, Miss Clement.

MIRALDA

It is sweet of you. It's really sweet. It's
sweet of both of you. I don't know what I d
have done without you. I seemed to know
it that day the moment I saw you.

JOHN BEAL

O, it's nothing, Miss Clement, nothing at
all.

ARCHIE BEAL

That's all right.

MIRALDA

Well, now I'll have to look for an hotel.

JOHN BEAL

Yes, that's the trouble, that really is the
trouble. That's what I've been thinking of

MIRALDA

Why, isn't there . . .

JOHN BEAL

No, I'm afraid there isn't. What are we to
do, Archie.

ARCHIE BEAL

I--I can't think. Perhaps Miss Clement
would have a scheme.

MIRALDA [to JOHN BEAL]

I rely on you, Mr. Beal.

JOHN BEAL

I--I; but what can I . . . You see,
you're all alone. If you'd anyone with you,
you could have . . .

MIRALDA

I did think of bringing a rather nice aunt.
But on the whole I thought it better not to
tell anyone.

JOHN BEAL

Not to tell . . .

MIRALDA

No, on the whole I didn't.

JOHN BEAL

I say, Archie, what are we to do?

ARCHIE BEAL

Here's Daoud.

[Enter DAOUD.]

JOHN BEAL

The one man I trust in Al Shaldomir!

DAOUD

I have brought two watchers of the
doorstep to guard the noble lady.

JOHN BEAL

He says he's brought two watchers of the
doorstep to look after Miss Clement.

ARCHIE BEAL

Two chaperons! Splendid! She can go
anywhere now.

JOHN BEAL

Well, really, that is better. Yes that will
be all right. We can find a room for you now.
The trouble was your being alone. I hope
you'll like them. [To DAOUD.] Tell them
to enter here.

DAOUD [beckoning in the doorway]

Ho! Enter!

JOHN BEAL

That's all right, ARCHIE, isn't it?

ARCHIE BEAL

Yes, that's all right. A chaperon's a
chaperon, black or white.

JOHN BEAL

You won't mind their being black, will you,
Miss Clement?

MIRALDA

No, I shan't mind. They can't be worse
than white ones.

[Enter BAZZALOL and THOOTHOOBABA
two enormous Nubians, bearing peacock
fans and wearing scimitars. All stare at
them. They begin to fan slightly.]

DAOUD

The watchers of the doorstep.

JOHN BEAL

Idiot, Daoud! Fools! Dolts! Men may
not guard a lady's door.

[BAZZALOL and THOOTHOOBABA smile
ingratiatingly.]

We are not men.

BAZZALOL [bowing]

Curtain

Six and a half years elapse

THE SONG OF THE IRIS MARSHES

When morn is bright on the mountains olden
Till dawn is lost in the blaze of day,
When morn is bright and the marshes golden,
Where shall the lost lights fade away?
And where, my love, shall we dream to-day?

Dawn is fled to the marshy hollows
Where ghosts of stars in the dimness stray,
And the water is streaked with the flash of
swallows
And all through summer the iris sway.
But where, my love, shall we dream to-day?

When night is black in the iris marshes.

ACT III

SCENE 1

Six and a half years later.
Al Shaldomir.
A room in the palace.

MIRALDA reclines on a heap of cushions,
JOHN beside her.

Bazzalol and Thoothoobaba fan them.

OMAR [declaiming to a zither]

Al Shaldomir, Al Shaldomir,
The nightingales that guard thy ways
Cease not to give thee, after God
And after Paradise, all praise.
Thou art the theme of all their lays.
Al Shaldomir, Al Shaldomir. . . .

MIRALDA

Go now, Omar.

OMAR

O lady, I depart.
[Exit.]

MIRALDA [languidly]

John, John. I wish you'd marry me.

JOHN

Miralda, you're thinking of those old
customs again that we left behind us seven years
ago. What's the good of it?

MIRALDA

I had a fancy that I wished you would.

JOHN

What's the good of it? You know you are
my beloved. There are none of those
clergymen within hundreds of miles. What's the
good of it?

MIRALDA

We could find one, John.

JOHN

O, yes, I suppose we could, but . . .

MIRALDA

Why won't you?

JOHN

I told you why.

MIRALDA

O, yes, that instinct that you must not
marry. That's not your reason, John.

JOHN

Yes, it is.

MIRALDA

It's a silly reason. It's a crazy reason.
It's no reason at all. There's some other
reason.

JOHN

No, there isn't. But I feel that in my
bones. I don't know why. You know that
I love none else but you. Besides, we're
never going back, and it doesn't matter.
This isn't Blackheath.

MIRALDA

So I must live as your slave.

JOHN

No, no, Miralda. My dear, you are not my
slave. Did not the singer compare our love
to the desire of the nightingale for the
evening star? All know that you are my queen.

MIRALDA

They do not know at home.

JOHN

Home? Home? How could they know?
What have we in common with home? Rows
and rows of little houses; and if they hear a
nightingale there they write to the papers.
And--and if they saw this they'd think they
were drunk. Miralda, don't be absurd.
What has set you thinking of home?

MIRALDA

I want to be crowned queen.

JOHN

But I am not a king. I am only Shereef.

MIRALDA

You are all-powerful here, John, you can do
what you please, if you wish to. You don't
love me at all.

JOHN

Miralda, you know I love you. Didn't
I kill Hussein for you?

MIRALDA

Yes, but you don't love me now.

JOHN

And Hussein's people killed ARCHIE. That
was for you too. I brought my brother out
here to help you. He was engaged to be
married, too.

MIRALDA

But you don't love me now.

JOHN

Yes, I do. I love you as the dawn loves
the iris marshes. You know the song they
sing. (footnote: poem just before Act III)

MIRALDA

Then why won't you marry me?

JOHN

I told you, I told you. I had a dream about
the future. I forgot the dream, but I know
I was not to marry. I will not wrong the
future.

MIRALDA

Don't be crazy.

JOHN

I will have what fancies I please, crazy or
sane. Am I not Shereef of Shaldomir? Who
dare stop me if I would be mad as Herod?

MIRALDA

I will be crowned queen.

JOHN

It is not my wish.

MIRALDA

I will, I will, I will.

JOHN

Drive me not to anger. If I have you cast
into a well and take twenty of the fairest
daughters of Al Shaldomir in your place, who
can gainsay me?

MIRALDA

I will be crowned queen.

JOHN

O, do not be tiresome.

MIRALDA

Was it not my money that brought you
here? Was it not I who said " Kill Hussein"?
What power could you have had, had
Hussein lived? What would you have been doing
now, but for me?

JOHN

I don't know, Miralda.

MIRALDA

Catching some silly train to the City.
Working for some dull firm. Living in some
small suburban house. It is I, I, that brought
you from all that, and you won't make me a
queen.

JOHN

Is it not enough that you are my beloved?
You know there is none other but you. Is
it not enough, Miralda?

MIRALDA

It is not enough. I will be queen.

JOHN

Tchah! . . . Miralda, I know you are a
wonderful woman, the most wonderful in the
East; how you ever came to be in the West
I don't know, and a train of all places; but,
Miralda, you must not have petty whims,
they don't become you.

MIRALDA

Is it a petty whim to wish to be a queen?

JOHN

Yes, when it is only the name you want.
You are a queen. You have all you wish for.
Are you not my beloved? And have I not
power here over all men? Could I not close
the pass?

MIRALDA

I want to be queen.

JOHN

Oh-h! I will leave you. I have more to do
than to sit and hear your whims. When I
come back you will have some other whim.
Miralda, you have too many whims.

[He rises.]

MIRALDA

Will you be back soon?

JOHN

No.

MIRALDA

When will you come back, John?

[She is reclining, looking fair, fanning
slightly.]

JOHN

In half an hour.

MIRALDA

In half an hour?

JOHN

Yes.

[Exit.]

MIRALDA

Half an hour.

[Her fan is laid down. She clutches
it with sudden resolve. She goes to the
wall, fanning herself slowly. She leans
against it. She fans herself now with
obvious deliberation. Three times the
great fan goes pat against the window, and
then again separately three times; and
then she puts it against the window once
with a smile of ecstasy. She has signalled.
She returns to the cushions and reclines
with beautiful care, fanning herself softly.

Enter the Vizier, HAFIZ EL ALCOLAHN]

HAFIZ

Lady! You bade me come.

MIRALDA

Did I, Hafiz?

HAFIZ

Lady, your fan.

MIRALDA

Ah, I was fanning myself.

HAFIZ

Seven times, lady.

MIRALDA

Ah, was it? Well, now you're here.

HAFIZ

Lady, O star of these times. O light over
lonely marshes. [He kneels by her and
embraces her.] Is the Shereef gone, lady?

MIRALDA

For half an hour, Hafiz.

HAFIZ

How know you for half an hour?

MIRALDA

He said so.

HAFIZ

He said so? Then is the time to fear, if a
man say so.

MIRALDA

I know him.

HAFIZ

In our country who knows any man so
much? None.

MIRALDA

He'll be away for half an hour.

HAFIZ [embracing]

O, exquisite lily of unattainable mountains.

MIRALDA

Ah, Hafiz, would you do a little thing for
me?

HAFIZ

I would do all things, lady, O evening
star.

MIRANDA

Would you make me a queen, Hafiz?

HAFIZ

If--if the Shereef were gathered?

MIRALDA

Even so, Hafiz.

HAFIZ

Lady, I would make you queen of all that
lies west of the passes.

MIRANDA

You would make me queen?

HAFIZ

Indeed, before all my wives, before all
women, over all Shaldomir, named the elect.

MIRALDA

O, well, Hafiz; then you may kiss me.
[HAFIZ does so ad lib.]

Hafiz, the Shereef has irked me.

HAFIZ

Lady, O singing star, to all men is the hour.

MIRALDA

The appointed hour?

HAFIZ

Even the appointed hour, the last, leading
to darkness.

MIRALDA

Is it written, think you, that the Shereef's
hour is soon?

HAFIZ

Lady, O dawn's delight, let there be a
banquet. Let the great ones of Shaldomir be
bidden there.

MIRALDA

There shall be a banquet, Hafiz.

HAFIZ

Soon, O lady. Let it be soon, sole lily of
the garden.

MIRALDA

It shall be soon, Hafiz.
[More embraces.]

HAFIZ

And above all, O lady, bid Daoud, the son
of the baker.

MIRALDA

He shall be bidden, Hafiz.

HAFIZ

O lady, it is well.

MIRALDA

Go now, Hafiz.

HAFIZ

Lady, I go [giving a bag of gold to BAZZALOL].
Silence. Silence. Silence.

BAZZALOL [kneeling]

O, master!

HAFIZ

Let the tomb speak; let the stars cry out;
but do you be silent.

BAZZALOL

Aye, master.

HAFIZ [to THOOTHOOBABA]

And you. Though this one speak, yet be
silent, or dread the shadow of Hafiz el
Alcolahn.

[He drops a bag of gold.
THOOTHOOBABA goes down and grabs at the gold;
his eyes gloat over it.]

THOOTHOOBABA

Master, I speak not. Oh-h-h.

[Exit HAFIZ.

MIRALDA arranges herself on the
cushions. She looks idly at each Nubian. The
Nubians put each a finger over his lips and
go on fanning with one hand.]

MIRALDA

A queen. I shall look sweet as a queen.

[Enter JOHN. She rises to greet him
caressingly.

Enter DAOUD.]

Oh, you have brought Daoud with you.

JOHN

Why not?

MIRALDA

You know that I don't like Daoud.

JOHN

I wish to speak with him.

[MIRALDA looks straight at JOHN and
moves away in silence. Exit L.]

JOHN

Daoud.

DAOUD

Great master.

JOHN

Daoud, one day in spring, in the cemetery
of those called Blessed, beyond the city's
gates, you swore to me by the graves of both
your parents . . . .

DAOUD

Great master, even so I swore.

JOHN

. . . . to be true to me always.

DAOUD

There is no Shereef but my master.

JOHN

Daoud, you have kept your word.

DAOUD

I have sought to, master.

JOHN

You have helped me often, Daoud, warned
me and helped me often. Through you I
knew those currents that run through the
deeps of the market, in silence and all men
feel them, but a ruler never. You told me of
them, and when I knew--then I could look
after myself, Daoud. They could do nothing
against me then. Well, now I hold this
people. I hold them at last, Daoud, and now
--well, I can rest a little.

DAOUD

Not in the East, master.

JOHN

Not in the East, Daoud?

DAOUD

No, master.

JOHN

Why? What do you mean?

DAOUD

In Western countries, master, whose tales
I have read, in a wonderful book named the
"Good Child's History of England," in the
West a man hath power over a land, and lo!
the power is his and descends to his son's son
after him.

JOHN

Well, doesn't it in the East?

DAOUD

Not if he does not watch, master; in the
night and the day, and in the twilight
between the day and the night, and in the dawn
between the night and the day.

JOHN

I thought you had pretty long dynasties
in these parts, and pretty lazy ones.

DAOUD

Master, he that was mightiest of those that
were kings in Babylon had a secret door
prepared in an inner chamber, which led to a
little room, the smallest in the palace, whose
back door opened secretly to the river, even
to great Euphrates, where a small boat waited
all the days of his reign.

JOHN

Did he really now? Well, he was taking no
chances. Did he have to use it?

DAOUD

No, master. Such boats are never used.
Those that watch like that do not need to
seek them, and the others, they would never
be able to reach the river in time, even though
the boat were there.

JOHN

I shouldn't like to have to live like that.
Why, a river runs by the back of this palace.
I suppose palaces usually are on rivers. I'm
glad I don't have to keep a boat there.

DAOUD

No, master.

JOHN

Well, what is it you are worrying about?
Who is it you are afraid of?

DAOUD

Hafiz el Alcolahn.

JOHN

O, Hafiz. I have no fears of Hafiz. Lately
I ordered my spies to watch him no longer.
Why does he hate me?

DAOUD

Because, most excellent master, you slew
Hussein.

JOHN

Slew Hussein? What is that to do with
him? May I not slay whom I please?

DAOUD

Even so, master. Even so. But he was
Hussein's enemy.

JOHN

His enemy, eh?

DAOUD

For years he had dreamed of the joy of
killing Hussein.

JOHN

Well, he should have done it before I came.
We don't hang over things and brood over
them for years where I come from. If a
thing's to be done, it's done.

DAOUD

Even so, master. Hafiz had laid his plans
for years. He would have killed him and got
his substance; and then, when the hour drew
near, you came, and Hussein died, swiftly,
not as Hafiz would have had him die; and
lo! thou art the lord of the pass, and Hafiz is
no more than a beetle that runs about in the
dirt.

JOHN

Well, so you fear Hafiz?

DAOUD

Not for himself, master. Nay, I fear not
Hafiz. But, master, hast thou seen when the
thunder is coming, but no rumble is heard
and the sky is scarce yet black, how little
winds run in the grass and sigh and die; and
the flower beckons a moment with its head;
all the world full of whispers, master, all
saying nothing; then the lightning, master, and
the anger of God; and men say it came
without warning? [Simply.] I hear those things
coming, master.

JOHN

Well?

DAOUD

Master, it is all silent in the market. Once,
when the price of turquoises was high, men
abused the Shereef. When the merchant men
could not sell their pomegranates for silver
they abused the Shereef. It is men's way,
master, men's way. Now it is all silent in the
market. It is like the grasses with the idle
winds, that whisper and sigh and die away;
like the flowers beckoning to nothing. And
so, master, and so . . . .

JOHN

I see, you fear some danger.

DAOUD

I fear it, master.

JOHN

What danger, Daoud?

DAOUD

Master, I know not.

JOHN

From what quarter, Daoud?

DAOUD

O master, O sole Lord of Al Shaldomir,
named the elect, from that quarter.

JOHN

That quarter? Why, that is the gracious
lady's innermost chamber.

DAOUD

From that quarter, great master, O Lord
of the Pass.

JOHN

Daoud, I have cast men into prison for
saying less than this. Men have been flogged
on the feet for less than this.

DAOUD

Slay me, master, but hear my words.

JOHN

I will not slay you. You are mistaken,
Daoud. You have made a great mistake.
The thing is absurd. Why, the gracious lady
has scarcely seen Hafiz. She knows nothing
of the talk of the market. Who could tell
her? No one comes here. It is absurd. Only
the other day she said to me . . . But it
is absurd, it is absurd, Daoud. Besides, the
people would never rebel against me. Do I
not govern them well?

DAOUD

Even so, master.

JOHN

Why should they rebel, then?

DAOUD

They think of the old times, master.

JOHN

The old times? Why, their lives weren't
safe. The robbers came down from the
mountains and robbed the market whenever they
had a mind.

DAOUD

Master, men were content in the old times.

JOHN

But were the merchants content?

DAOUD

Those that loved merchandise were
content, master. Those that loved it not went
into the mountains.

JOHN

But were they content when they were
robbed?

DAOUD

They soon recovered their losses, master.
Their prices were unjust and they loved usury.

JOHN

And were the people content with unjust
prices?

DAOUD

Some were, master, as men have to be in
all countries. The others went into the
mountains and robbed the merchants.

JOHN

I see.

DAOUD

But now, master, a man robs a merchant
and he is cast into prison. Now a man is
slain in the market and his son, his own son,
master, may not follow after the aggressor
and slay him and burn his house. They are
ill-content, master. No man robs the
merchants, no man slays them, and the
merchants' hearts are hardened and they oppress
all men.

JOHN

I see. They don't like good government?

DAOUD

They sigh for the old times, master.

JOHN

I see; I see. In spite of all I have done for
them, they want their old bad government
back again.

DAOUD

It is the old way, master.

JOHN

Yes, yes. And so they would rebel. Well,
we must watch. You have warned me once
again, Daoud, and I am grateful. But you
are wrong, Daoud, about the gracious lady.
You are mistaken. It is impossible. You are
mistaken, Daoud. I know it could not be.

DAOUD

I am mistaken, master. Indeed, I am
mistaken. Yet, watch. Watch, master.

JOHN

Well, I will watch.

DAOUD

And, master, if ever I come to you bearing
oars, then watch no longer, master, but follow
me through the banquet chamber and through
the room beyond it. Move as the wild deer
move when there is danger, without pausing,
without wondering, without turning round;
for in that hour, master, in that hour . . . .

JOHN

Through the room beyond the banquet
chamber, Daoud?

DAOUD

Aye, master, following me.

JOHN

But there is no door beyond, Daoud.

DAOUD

Master, I have prepared a door.

JOHN

A door, Daoud?

DAOUD

A door none wots of, master.

JOHN

Whither does it lead?

DAOUD

To a room that you know not of, a little
room; you must stoop, master.

JOHN

O, and then?

DAOUD

To the river, master.

JOHN

The river! But there's no boat there.

DAOUD

Under the golden willow, master.

JOHN

A boat?

DAOUD

Even so, under the branches.

JOHN

Is it come to that? . . . No, Daoud, all
this is unnecessary. It can't come to that.

DAOUD

If ever I come before you bearing two oars,
in that hour, master, it is necessary.

JOHN

But you will not come. It will never come
to that.

DAOUD

No, master.

JOHN

A wise man can stop things before they
get as far as that.

DAOUD

They that were kings in Babylon were wise
men, master.

JOHN

Babylon! But that was thousands of
years ago.

DAOUD

Man changes not, master.

JOHN

Well, Daoud, I will trust you, and if it
ever comes to that . . .

[Enter MIRALDA.]

MIRALDA

I thought Daoud was gone.

DAOUD

Even now I go, gracious lady.

[Exit DAOUD. Rather strained silence
with JOHN and MIRALDA till he goes.
She goes and retakes herself comfortable
on the cushions. He is not entirely at ease.]

MIRALDA

You had a long talk with Daoud.

JOHN

Yes, he came and talked a good deal.

MIRALDA

What about?

JOHN

O, just talk; you know these Eastern
people.

MIRALDA

I thought it was something you were
discussing with him.

JOHN

O, no.

MIRALDA

Some important secret.

JOHN

No, not at all.

MIRALDA

You often talk with Daoud.

JOHN

Yes, he is useful to me. When he talks
sense I listen, but to-day . . .

MIRALDA

What did he come for to-day?

JOHN

O, nothing.

MIRALDA

You have a secret with Daoud that you
will not share with me.

JOHN

No, I have not.

MIRALDA

What was it he said?

JOHN

He said there was a king in Babylon who . . .

[DAOUD slips into the room.]

MIRALDA

In Babylon? What has that to do with
us?

JOHN

Nothing. I told you he was not talking
sense.

MIRALDA

Well, what did he say?

JOHN

He said that in Babylon . . .

DAOUD

Hist!

JOHN

O, well . . .

[MIRALDA glares, but calms herself
and says nothing.

Exit DAOUD.]

MIRALDA

What did Daoud say of Babylon?

JOHN

O, well, as you say, it had nothing to do
with us.

MIRALDA

But I wish to hear it.

JOHN

I forget.

[For a moment there is silence.]

MIRALDA

John, John. Will you do a little thing for
me?

JOHN

What is it?

MIRALDA

Say you will do it, John. I should love to
have one of my little wishes granted.

JOHN

What is it?

MIRALDA

Kill Daoud, John. I want you to kill
Daoud.

JOHN

I will not.

[He walks up and down in front of the
two Nubians in silence. She plucks
petulantly at a pillow. She suddenly calms
herself. A light comes into her eyes. The
Nubians go on fanning. JOHN goes on
pacing.]

MIRALDA

John, John, I have forgotten my foolish
fancies.

JOHN

I am glad of it.

MIRALDA

I do not really wish you to kill Daoud.

JOHN [same voice]

I'm glad you don't.

MIRALDA

I have only one fancy now, John.

JOHN

Well, what is it?

MIRALDA

Give a banquet, John. I want you to give
a banquet.

JOHN

A banquet? Why?

MIRALDA

Is there any harm in my fancy?

JOHN

No.

MIRALDA

Then if I may not be a queen, and if you
will not kill Daoud for me, give a banquet,
John. There is no harm in a banquet.

JOHN

Very well. When do you want it?

MIRALDA

To-morrow, John. Bid all the great ones
to it, all the illustrious ones in Al Shaldomir.

JOHN

Very well.

MIRALDA

And bid Daoud come.

JOHN

Daoud? You asked me to kill him.

MIRALDA

I do not wish that any longer, John.

JOHN

You have queer moods, Miralda.

MIRALDA

May I not change my moods, John?

JOHN

I don't know. I don't understand them.

MIRALDA

And ask Hafiz el Alcolahn, John.

JOHN

Hafiz? Why?

MIRALDA

I don't know, John. It was just my fancy.

JOHN

Your fancy, eh?

MIRALDA

That was all.

JOHN

Then I will ask him. Have you any other
fancy?

MIRALDA

Not now, John.

JOHN

Then go, Miralda.

MIRALDA

Go?

JOHN

Yes.

MIRALDA

Why?

JOHN

Because I command it.

MIRALDA

Because you command it?

JOHN

Yes, I, the Shereef Al Shaldomir.

MIRALDA

Very well.

[Exit L.

He walks to the door to see that she is
really gone. He comes back to centre and
stands with back to audience, pulling a
cord quietly from his pocket and arranging
it.

He moves half left and comes up behind
BAZZALOL. Suddenly he slips the cord
over BAZZALOL's head, and tightens it
round his neck.]

[BAZZALOL flops on his knees.

THOOTHOOBABA goes on fanning.]

JOHN

Speak!

[BAZZALOL is silent.

JOHN tightens it more. THOOTHOOBABA
goes on quietly fanning.]

BAZZALOL

I cannot.

JOHN

If you would speak, raise your left hand.
If you raise your left hand and do not speak
you shall die.

[BAZZALOL is silent. JOHN tightens
more. BAZZALOL raises his great flabby
left hand high. JOHN releases the cord.
BAZZALOL blinks and moves his mouth.]

BAZZALOL

Gracious Shereef, one visited the great
lady and gave us gold, saying, "Speak not."

JOHN

When?

BAZZALOL

Great master, one hour since.

JOHN [a little viciously]

Who?

BAZZALOL

O heaven-sent, he was Hafiz el Alcolahn.

JOHN

Give me the gold.

[BAZZALOL gives it.]

[To THOOTHOOBABA.] Give me the
gold.

THOOTHOOBABA

Master, none gave me gold.

[John touches his dagger, and looks like
using it.

THOOTHOOBABA gives it.]

JOHN

Take back your gold. Be silent about this.
You too.

[He throws gold to BAZZALOL.]

Gold does not make you silent, but there is
a thing that does. What is that thing?
Speak. What thing makes you silent?

BAZZALOL

O, great master, it is death.

JOHN

Death, eh? And how will you die if you
speak? You know how you will die?

BAZZALOL

Yes, heaven-sent.

JOHN

Tell your comrade, then.

BAZZALOL

We shall be eaten, great master.

JOHN

You know by what?

BAZZALOL

Small things, great master, small things.
Oh-h-h-h. Oh-h-h.

[THOOTHOOBABA's knees scarcely hold
him.]

JOHN

It is well.


Curtain

SCENE 2

A small street. Al Shaldomir.

Time: Next day.

[Enter L. the SHEIK OF THE
BISHAREENS.

He goes to an old green door, pointed of
course in the Arabic way.]

SHEIK OF THE BISHAREENS

Ho, Bishareens!

[The BISHAREENS run on.]

SHEIK

It is the place and the hour.

BISHAREENS

Ah, ah!

SHEIK [to FIRST BISHAREEN]

Watch.

[FIRST BISHAREEN goes to right and
watches up sunny street.]

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