MANAHEM.THOU hast sent for me, O King, and I am here.
HEROD.Who art thou?
MANAHEM. Manahem, the Essenian.
HEROD.I recognize thy features, but what mean
|These torn and faded garments? On thy road|
|Have demons crowded thee, and rubbed against thee,|| 5|
|And given thee weary knees? A cup of wine!|
MANAHEM.The Essenians drink no wine.
HEROD. What wilt thou, then?
HEROD. Not even a cup of water?
|Why hast thou sent for me?|
HEROD. Dost thou remember
|One day when I, a schoolboy in the streets|| 10|
|Of the great city, met thee on my way|
|To school, and thou didst say to me: Hereafter|
|Thou shalt be king?|
MANAHEM. Yea, I remember it.
HEROD.Thinking thou didst not know me, I replied:
|I am of humble birth; whereat thou, smiling,|| 15|
|Didst smite me with thy hand, and saidst again:|
|Thou shalt be King; and let the friendly blows|
|That Manahem hath given thee on this day|
|Remind thee of the fickleness of fortune.|
HEROD. No more.
MANAHEM. Yea, for I said to thee:
|It shall be well with thee if thou love justice|
|And clemency towards thy fellow-men.|
|Hast thou done this, O King?|
HEROD. Go, ask my people.
MANAHEM.And then, foreseeing all thy life, I added:
|But these thou wilt forget; and at the end|| 25|
|Of life the Lord will punish thee.|
HEROD. The end!
|When will that come? For this I sent to thee.|
|How long shall I still reign? Thou dost not answer!|
|Speak! shall I reign ten years?|
MANAHEM. Thou shalt reign twenty,
|Nay, thirty years. I cannot name the end.|| 30|
HEROD.Thirty? I thank thee, good Essenian!
|This is my birthday, and a happier one|
|Was never mine. We hold a banquet here.|
|See, yonder are Herodias and her daughter.|
MANAHEM, aside.T is said that devils sometimes take the shape
|Of ministering angels, clothed with air,|
|That they may be inhabitants of earth,|
|And lead man to destruction. Such are these.|
HEROD.Knowest thou John the Baptist?
MANAHEM. Yea, I know him;
|Who knows him not?|
HEROD. Know, then, this John the Baptist
|Said that it was not lawful I should marry|
|My brother Philips wife, and John the Baptist|
|Is here in prison. In my fathers time|
|Matthias Margaloth was put to death|
|For tearing the golden eagle from its station|| 45|
|Above the Temple Gate,a slighter crime|
|That John is guilty of. These things are warnings|
|To intermeddlers not to play with eagles,|
|Living or dead. I think the Essenians|
|Are wiser, or more wary, are they not?|| 50|
MANAHEM.The Essenians do not marry.
HEROD. Thou hast given
|My words a meaning foreign to my thought.|
MANAHEM.Let me go hence, O King!
HEROD. Stay yet awhile,
|And see the daughter of Herodias dance.|
|Cleopatra of Jerusalem, my mother,|| 55|
|In her best days, was not more beautiful.|
Music. THE DAUGHTER OF HERODIAS dances.
HEROD.Oh, what was Miriam dancing with her timbrel,
|Compared to this one?|
MANAHEM, aside. O thou Angel of Death,
|Dancing at funerals among the women,|
|When men bear out the dead! The air is hot|| 60|
|And stifles me! Oh for a breath of air!|
|Bid me depart, O King!|
HEROD. Not yet. Come hither.
|Salome, thou enchantress! Ask of me|
|Whateer thou wilt; and even unto the half|
|Of all my kingdom, I will give it thee,|| 65|
|As the Lord liveth!|
DAUGHTER OF HERODIAS, kneeling. Give me here the head
|Of John the Baptist on this silver charger!|
HEROD.Not that, dear child! I dare not; for the people
|Regard John as a prophet.|
DAUGHTER OF HERODIAS. Thou hast sworn it.
HEROD.For mine oaths sake, then. Send unto the prison;
|Let him die quickly. Oh, accursed oath!|
MANAHEM.Bid me depart, O King!
HEROD. Good Manahem,
|Give me thy hand. I love the Essenians.|
|He s gone and hears me not! The guests are dumb,|
|Awaiting the pale face, the silent witness.|| 75|
|The lamps flare; and the curtains of the doorways|
|Wave to and fro as if a ghost were passing!|
|Strengthen my heart, red wine of Ascalon!|