King David, by Lucy Bate

Return to David Main Page

Cast and Set

Act I

Act II

The lights rise on David and Jehoshaphat, David's secretary, and, to one side, Absalom.  It is five years later.

Jehoshaphat is taking letters.

DAVID

"To Talmai, king of Geshur.  From David."

JEHOSHAPHAT

(writing) "Your grace."

DAVID

No, no; "greetings."

JEHOSHAPHAT

(writing) "Greetings, Talmai."

DAVID

“Greetings, Father.”

JEHOSHAPHAT

Father?

DAVID

Talmai is my father-in-law, Jehoshaphat.

JEHOSHAPHAT

Oh, quite, quite, quite.  (He writes.)

DAVID

Tell Talmai his daughter Maacah is a jewel among women.  Tell him his grandson Absalom is a boy of great promise, his granddaughter Tamar is her father's delight.  Tell him we have subdued the Edomites, we have signed treaties, we have annexed Canaan; the Lord has given victory to Israel. We have irrigated the plains at the foot of Mount Zion; we have built a high tower in Jerusalem, we are constructing an aqueduct for Jerusalem.

JEHOSHAPHAT

(writing) I can't keep up with you.

DAVID

Get down what you can.  Tell him I have walked in the way of the Lord, and the Lord has been good to my people.  Send him my love.

"To Amnon, my son."  Tell him I seldom see him, I love him dearly, let him dine with my wife and me --

JEHOSHAPHAT

Your wife Bathsheba?

DAVID

My wife his mother, my wife Ahinoam.

JEHOSHAPHAT

Oh, quite, quite, quite.

DAVID

Let him dine with us on the feast of Shevuous.  I hear he is a man for revelry; but I recall his infancy and hold him dear.

"To Joab, my general, my honored friend."  Let him send a delegation to Damascus to look into the copper ores.  Also a delegation to Canaan to inquire after the welfare of our brethren and to commence a census of the men of Canaan and of Israel and of Judah.

"To Asaph the singer."  Let him come to me.

(Michal enters.)

MICHAL

Am I interrupting something?

DAVID

Come in, come in, Michal.

MICHAL

A friend of mine desires to see you, David, a dear friend of mine.  She is a widow, a Benjamite, well born, but in reduced circumstances now.  She is a good conversationalist; you will like her.  Now let me explain, David.  She has two sons; both are well-built youths and capable of any sort of work, but they are indolent, neither one is industrious --

DAVID

Yes, yes; peace be to you, Michal.  I will see to her presently.

MICHAL

She has come a long way, and we have had such a nice chat, David --

DAVID

Yes, yes; peace be to you.  Chat with her a while longer.  I will see to her.

(pause)

MICHAL

(awkwardly) I am conscious that I am making a fool of myself.

DAVID

Yes, yes; peace be to you. I will see to your acquaintance presently.

(Michal exits.)

JEHOSHAPHAT

Shall I speak for you to this lady with the lazy sons?

DAVID

No, I'll see her. -- "To Shimei the Ramathite, who oversees the vineyards" -- Never mind; Shimei can wait.  Go, reassure the widow, I'll get to her. But first take my letter to Asaph.  Let him come to me.  I desire music, and I do not have the inclination in these days to compose my own.

JEHOSHAPHAT

Your son Absalom is a talented musician. Let him play for you.

ABSALOM

(looking up) I would be glad to. Father.

DAVID

Very good. Play.

(Jehoshaphat exits. Absalom takes down the harp, unbinds it, and plays.)

ABSALOM

(harping)

Lord, I have called to You; make haste to me --

DAVID

No, don't sing a psalm of mine. I have heard my own music enough.

ABSALOM

(harping)

Out of Zion, the beautiful,
God shines forth.

DAVID

No, don't sing; a Song of Asaph's.  Sing a song of your own composition, Absalom.

ABSALOM

I forget them.

DAVID

Sing, a new song then.  Poetry comes easily to the young.  Or so it did to me, when I was a boy in Bethlehem keeping sheep, and singing.

ABSALOM

I do not tend sheep.

(But he sings, shyly.)

I pitched my tent upon the plain.
I built my house within the city.
But I am young, and I am young.
Who knows how ends my story?

That is a song in the women's fashion.  Our Aunt Michal has taught us to sing.

DAVID

Learn from her what you can. -- You must sing of the Lord and not of yourself, Absalom, but it's a good beginning.

ABSALOM

You were by yourself when you kept sheep in Bethlehem.

DAVID

Solitude is a good companion for a poet.

ABSALOM

I am not a poet. --

DAVID

(encouraging him) I sang in my mother's fashion when I began.

ABSALOM

(He sings again.)

I set my ship upon the sea.
I sailed my boat upon the ocean.

DAVID

I sailed my boat upon the water?

ABSALOM

... upon the water.

DAVID

(prompting him)

But I am young.

ABSALOM

And I am young.
Who knows how ends my story?

DAVID

I had a friend and we wrote songs together.  That was years ago, and he is dead.

(Absalom sings again, David joining in, or humming, the refrain.)

ABSALOM

I felled an oak with a golden ax.
I built a stair with a silver hammer.
But I am young, and I am young.
Who knows how ends my story?

DAVID

You must write down your lyric, Absalom. -- I made a song for my friend, but that was after he had died.

ABSALOM

I have also made a song for someone.  It is in the psalmists' fashion.  But it is not a psalm.

DAVID

Let me hear it.

ABSALOM

(harping)

My sister Tamar is a beauty.
My sister Tamar is a rose of Sharon
That opens in the morning at the foot of Mount Carmel.
My sister Tamar is like a windflower
Growing wild in the streets of Jerusalem.
       My brother Amnon looked at me and said: "You will serve under me."
My brother Amnon, my half brother, looked at my sister Tamar, my
           full sister, and said to me:
"She is a rose of Sharon.  She is like a windflower."

DAVID

What is that??

ABSALOM

A song of Absalom.  For his sister Tamar.

(The lights dim.)

(The music continues, and changes.)

(Moonlight. Tamar and Amnon enter, outside the tent. He is drunk.)

AMNON

(singing)

It's all bound to change
It's all bound to change

You will change, Tamar.

TAMAR

Will I, Amnon?

AMNON

(harshly) You are cold to me, Tamar.  You are smug.  You are indifferent.  (sentimentally) But as for me, I love you more than words can tell.  Long have I looked on Tamar and found her fair.

(singing)

It's all bound to change

Tonight the moon is full, the stars are like swords, and the red wine in my blood is like a sword.  (He takes hold of her.)  Tonight Tamar will love me.

TAMAR

(struggling) No.

AMNON

(singing)

It's all bound to change

(Tamar frees herself.)

TAMAR

I won't change, Amnon.

AMNON

(disrobing) Then I will.

As for Tamar, she will change soon enough.

(He pulls her into the tent, and lowers the side.)

(inside the tent) For why did you come walking with me in the moonlight, pretty Tamar, if you didn't want me to make a change in you?

(singing; rhythmically)

When the baby is born in
The bright summer morning

(slower)

It's all ... bound ... to change...

(Absalom enters, outside the tent.  Then from inside the tent, sounds of slapping.)

TAMAR (inside the tent)

(weeping) Be kind to me, Amnon.

(Absalom opens the side of the tent, and Amnon comes out, followed by Tamar.)

AMNON

(drunkenly) She is loathesome to me, Absalom.  Tamar is loathesome.  I lusted for her.  And I laid her.  And my lust has turned to loathing.

(He retches.) I am nauseous with wine.

ABSALOM

Come home with me, Amnon, my half brother.  I will take you to your bed.  Do not weep, Tamar, my sister.  You will have justice.

(Amnon and Absalom exit, and, separately, Tamar.)

(The lights rise, but not brightly, on David and Absalom. Absalom's sword is on the ground beside him, and the harp.)

ABSALOM

My brother Amnon, your first-born, was ambitious. He was not pleased
When you named your young son Solomon your heir.
I said: "Solomon has not been anointed.
Neither have we acknowledge him over us."
But Amnon said: "Let us conquer where we can, Absalom.
For in this we will not conquer."  I asked his meaning.

DAVID

What did he answer?

ABSALOM

(changing the subject)
My aunt Michal has taught us to sing.
My mother Maacah also has taught us songs.
They are not like the psalms the psalmists sing,
Being shorter, and lyrical, and in rhyme.

DAVID

Sing one, if you like.

ABSALOM

(changing the subject)
When I was a boy in Hebron and my sister Tamar a little child,
Amnon, who was a great boy even then,
Looked at your chair and said, "That will be mine."
I said to Amnon, "Ahinoam is your mother.
But Maacah, a princess of Geshur, is my mother and the mother of Tamar."
Amnon said, "Tamar is a rose of Sharon, she is like a windflower.
Our Aunt Michal is childless."
That was before Bathsheba came into our house.

DAVID

You are talkative tonight, Absalom.

ABSALOM

I am reminiscing.

DAVID

It is always a pleasure for a father to hear his children.

ABSALOM

Take your pleasure while you can. Nothing lasts.
Tamar was a rose of Sharon, she was like a windflower.
My brother Amnon was taller than I.
You are taking a census.

DAVID

Yes.

ABSALOM

I advise against it. No man wants to be tallied.
Remember later: Absalom advised against the census.
I came here hastily, By a backroad,
To see my father.

DAVID

It is always my pleasure to see you, Absalom, even when you have been drinking wine.

ABSALOM

I didn't drink the wine.  My brother Amnon drank it.  Now he is asleep.  He will not wake before daybreak.  I assure you, he will not wake.

DAVID

My great-grandmother, Ruth, lay at the feet of my great-grandfather after he had drunk, and Boaz waked at midnight.  So who can say whether Amnon will wake?

ABSALOM

He will not wake.  Father. And neither will my sister Tamar wake, because she will not sleep all night for weeping.  I will sing you a song.

It's all bound to change
It's all bound to change
When the baby is born in
The bright summer morning
It's all bound to change

DAVID

I have heard that song.

ABSALOM

My Aunt Michal sang it.  But the verses are new.  I did not write them.  I wrote a song in the psalmists' fashion.

(harping)

I walked through the land of the stranger,
Forgetting not the house of my father.
I dwelt in the land of the stranger,
Forgetting not the God of my father.
Surely the Lord will vouchsafe me before I die
To come again to my own people,
To praise the Lord in His own land.

I sought refuge in Geshur.
I was a prince in Israel.

DAVID

Yes, that's very promising, though you must focus more on the Lord and less on the psalmist.  Were you thinking of the time I fled from Saul?

ABSALOM

No, I was not.

But Amnon, my half brother, sang:

My love is like a lily bell
Flourishing in Israel.
I will wake her when she sleeps.
I will watch her when she weeps.

It's all bound to change
It's all bound to change

Then he raped my sister Tamar.

DAVID

Tell Amnon, he must flee from Jerusalem.

ABSALOM

(putting aside the harp) He cannot flee.  I killed him.

DAVID

Then you must flee, Absalom, for the murder of the prince your brother.

(Absalom rises, and puts on his sword.)

Where will you go?

ABSALOM

To my grandfather, Talmai, the king of Geshur.

(Absalom exits. -- David takes up the harp. He does not play on it. --Bathsheba enters, quietly.)

DAVID

Tell my young son Solomon when he inquires, when he wakes in the morning, and asks after his brothers, tell him Absalom has gone to visit his grandfather; tell him an angel took Amnon in the night.  When he asks after his sister Tamar, tell him she is in mourning, she will come to him presently.

BATHSHEBA

I will take care of him.

NATHAN (offstage)

And the sword shall never depart from your house, David.  And the sword shall never depart from your house.

DAVID

(calling) The prophecy of the Lord has been fulfilled, as Nathan foretold it.

(Nathan enters, but stays outside the tent.)

NATHAN

It was prophesied, never.  Therefore the bloodshed has only begun.

(David lays down the harp, and goes to the open side of the tent.)

DAVID

Amnon is dead and Absalom has fled.  The bloodshed is over.  Go to your own house, Nathan.  I will call on you when I require prophecy.

NATHAN

Give heed to your son Adonijah, David.  Remember Saul's grandson Meribaal; be mindful of your daughter Tamar.  Be wary of the sons of Merab,Saul's daughter, and take care for the sons of Rizpah, Saul's concubine.  Neither put off any more the anointing of Solomon.  Absalom has laid bloodguilt over Israel.  And the sword shall never depart from your house.

DAVID

Thank you for your wisdom, Nathan.  I will call on you.

(Nathan exits.)

Next time let that prophet wait till I call for him. He comes inopportunely; he is full of wisdom.

BATHSHEBA

It is a different wisdom from what I am used to.

DAVID

Yes.  –

Let us so to sleep, Bathsheba.  Amnon was my first-born and a fine boy, and Absalom was musical and full of promise.  He will play with our son Solomon in the morning, and tell him tales of heroes.  Let us go to sleep. (going to her) Tamar was a rose of Sharon; she was like a windflower.  Let us sleep.

BATHSHEBA

Michal is waiting to see you.

DAVID

Another time.

BATHSHEBA

Maacah --

DAVID

Tomorrow.  She and I will consider together, what is to be done for Tamar?

BATHSHEBA

Ahinoam ... the mother of him who was slain ...

DAVID

Yes.

BATHSHEBA

Shall I call her to you? --

DAVID

Yes.

(Bathsheba exits. David lowers the tent side.)

(The lights rise on Michal and Tamar, outside the tent.)

MICHAL

Your aunt Ahinoam has borne another son, Tamar.  She has named him Elishama.

TAMAR

(matter-of-factly) My brother Absalom would have rather it was a girl.  He will not be pleased.

MICHAL

No.

TAMAR

My brother Adonijah will not be pleased.

MICHAL

No.

TAMAR

My cousin Meribaal will not be pleased.

MICHAL

No.

TAMAR

But to me it is a matter of indifference.  Offer my felicitations to my aunt Ahinoan. --

MICHAL

Your brother Solomon's anointing has been postponed again.

TAMAR

That is no concern of ours, Aunt Michal.  We are not contenders to the crown.

MICHAL

Have you petitioned your father again for the return of your brother Absalom from exile?

TAMAR

No, I have not. But there are others who have, no doubt.

MICHAL

I will see to it.

TAMAR

That is your privilege, Aunt Michal.

(pause)

MICHAL

I have been thinking, Tamar, I would like to have sons of my own.

TAMAR

That has always been our wish for you, Aunt Michal.

MICHAL

Well, it may happen.  I have a plan. -- Regardless; Absalom has been like a son to me,

Now I think I will not speak to David myself; I am not always persuasive.  But Joab will speak for me; that is, for Absalom.

(The lights dim.)

(The lights rise on Michal and Tamar. The widow enters. Her clothes are torn -- a sign of mourning.)

MICHAL

(to the Widow) Take off your shoes. You are in mourning; remember?

(The Widow gives Michal her shoes.)

Come. -- Do you remember everything Joab told you?

WIDOW

I remember.

MICHAL

Come.

(Michal takes the Widow to the tent. She enters the tent, and the lights dim.)

(After a while, offstage, a chorus of women sings.

 CHORUS OF WOMEN

Absalom! Absalom!
Absalom is home again.

(The lights rise.  Michal and Tamar are outside the tent.  Inside, David opens the tent.)

Rejoice, 0 Israel. Make merry, Jerusalem.
Rejoice, 0 Israel. Make merry, Jerusalem.

(Absalom enters.)

ABSALOM

Thank you, thank you, daughters of Jerusalem.
Thank you, you daughters of Israel and of Judah.
After long travels it is a comfort to the heart
To be welcomed in the city of Jerusalem.

(Michal and Tamar meet him.)

MICHAL

Your father waits for you.  With the death of Amnon, his living sons are dear to him.

TAMAR

And the son who slew Amnon is the most dear.
It is a perversity of the human heart
To cherish what has harmed us. I've seen it in myself.
Welcome hone, brother.

(Absalom kisses her.)

ABSALOM

Thank you for your greeting, Tamar.  Thank you.  Aunt Michal.  -- Let us go in.

MICHAL

I will not enter with you.  Come see me, one evening.

ABSALOM

I will, Aunt Michal.  Come, Tamar.

TAMAR

It is you our father waits for; you, and not me.

(Absalom goes into the tent; Michal and Tamar exit.  Absalom hesitates.  David turns to him.  Then:)

DAVID

Come near me, Absalom; my son; my son.

(They embrace.)

I heard the singing; as you entered the city.  I too have looked for your return.  -- You will want supper?

ABSALOM

I met my mother on the way, and she fed me.

DAVID

Come; sit, my son.  -- (Absalom sits.)

Come, let me look at you.  You are broader.

ABSALOM

I am older.  I have been gone four years.

DAVID

They were good years, without calamity or trouble, except for sorrowing for my son Absalom.  Your mother has borne me another son, Eliada.

ABSALOM

How many sons is that. Father?

DAVID

I have begotten seventeen sons by eight wives, and thirteen sons by ten concubines; two of the seventeen are dead, the rest are thriving.  Three were born in your absence: Eliada your mother's son, and a son to Ahinoam, and a son to Bathsheba.  I have taken another wife, and two concubines.  These have been good years, saving your absence, my son.

We defeated the Amorites, with the help of the Lord; our treasuries are full.

ABSALOM

That is a blessing.

DAVID

We defeated the Philistines again, when war broke out again.  We completed an aqueduct; we are constructing others; we are paving the unpaved streets of Jerusalem.

The olive trees are fruitful, and the oil cellars are full.  The wheatfields are fruitful.  We have completed the census; the Israelites number a thousand thousand -- a million -- and they of Judah are four hundred and fifty thousand.

ABSALOM

Was the census popular?

DAVID

No, but it is completed.  Four thousand men were impressed for public works; we are numerous.  These have been good years, saving your absence, my son.  And that has passed.

Only, I have not constructed a temple for the Lord, to house the ark of the covenant.  I have made great wars, and shed much blood in the sight of the Lord.  But my son who succeeds me, he will build a house to the name of the Lord my God.

Neither have I built altars, because I have shed blood abundantly.

I am glad to talk of these things to you, Absalom, our achievements and hopes.  I am reminded of my friend Jonathan, he is dead many years.

ABSALOM

What provision was made for Tamar?

DAVID

She is betrothed to Shebuel, the son of Merab the daughter of Saul.

ABSALOM

Is it wise, to unite the two families?

DAVID

A betrothal is not a marriage.

(Tamar enters.)

TAMAR

There is a man from Beeroth who wants to see you; he cannot pay his taxes.

DAVID

Direct him to Jehoshaphat, Tamar.

TAMAR

I did, but he insisted on seeing you.  He apologized for coming to you on this day of days, but he said —

DAVID

Direct him to Jehoshaphat again.  Or let him come again in the morning. --

ABSALOM

Our father tells me you are betrothed to Shebuel, Tamar.

TAMAR

He is a kind man, he has done me no harm, and I incline toward him.

(She exits.)

ABSALOM

Jehoshaphat sees petitioners now?

DAVID

No.  I see them.  But not today, my son.

ABSALOM

But you do collect taxes now?

DAVID

We are rebuilding Jerusalem for a stronghold for all Israel and for a great city among the cities of the world; it must be paid for.  Also, monies are being laid aside for the temple.

ABSALOM

You said the treasuries were full.

DAVID

They are full; not overflowing.

ABSALOM

These taxes -- the census must have been aid in collecting them.

DAVID

Yes.

ABSALOM

In the rainy season everyone is glad that the streets are paved.  But taxes are paid in the dry season.

And does a Rehobite greatly care if the streets of Jerusalem are cobbled or dirt? —

Tell me about my brothers in the years of my absence.  Father -- Shephatiah, Adonijah, Chileab . . . little Solomon . . .

(The lights dim. After a while, in the half-light:)

DAVID

I have not anointed Solomon.

ABSALOM

(matter-of-factly) But he is your heir.

DAVID

So I promised his mother.

ABSALOM

That was some years ago.

(The lights change.  In the half-light:)

DAVID

These have been good years, saving your absence, my son.

CHORUS OF WOMEN (offstage)

Absalom! Absalom!
Absalom is home again.
Rejoice, 0 Israel. Make merry, Jerusalem.
Rejoice, 0 Israel. Make merry, Jerusalem.

DAVID

The festivities continue.

ABSALOM

Far into the night.

DAVID

I, too, rejoice to have my son at home.

ABSALOM

There is a plague in Geshur presently.  I was fortunate you called me home.  However, the plague had not come to my grandfather's palace.

DAVID

I pray it will not.

(The lights dim further.)

(The lights rise on Michal and Absalom, outside the tent.)

MICHAL

Joab and I sent a widow to the king, and the woman said to him; "I had two sons, they strove together in the field and one struck the other and killed him.  Now the whole family has risen against your handmaid, saying: 'Give us your son, and we will kill him for the life of his brother that he killed.'  Thus," she said, "they will quench my one coal which is left and leave my husband neither name nor remnant on the face of the earth."

Then your father was moved, and he spared the son that was left.  And he invoked the name of the Lord, that the bloodguilt be put away.

Then the widow said to your father the king: "Can you spare mine and not your banished one?"

Those were my words.  Joab and I devised the story together, but those words were mine.  But the king your father perceived only Joab's hand in it; which was satisfactory; I do not wield much influence with the king.

The widow said: "Can you spare mine, and not your banished one?" – Then your father summoned Joab, and he prayed in Joab's presence that the bloodguilt be put away; and a messenger was dispatched to Geshur; and you came home.

ABSALOM

You went to a great deal of trouble over me, Aunt Michal.

MICHAL

Your father loves you. You are his favorite of his sons.

ABSALOM

But I am not your son.

(pause)

MICHAL

You have been like a son to me, Absalom.  You know that.

ABSALOM

Yes. Yes, perhaps I have. Thank you, Aunt Michal, for your efforts on my behalf.

MICHAL

(amiably) You are doubting me.  You never doubted me in the old days.

ABSALOM

I have been away four years in the court at Geshur.  I was not busy; I had time to observe.  Such intrigues near the throne, Aunt Michal.  Such comings and goings, and vyings for power.  -- Why did you go to so much trouble to bring me home?  Did you hope to see me inherit my father's place?

MICHAL

(agreeably) You would be gifted at government, Absalom, if you were given the chance.

ABSALOM

My brother Solomon is the son of Bathsheba, my father's favorite wife.  Wouldn't you rather see the son Maacah anointed than the son of Bathsheba?  My mother is diffident, and lacking in influence.  The aunt who aided me, that aunt's position would be strengthened if not Solomon but Absalom were the Lord's Anointed.

MICHAL

(unruffled) Yes, it would strengthen my position.  (maternally) Don't make too much of it.

ABSALOM

You have no sons of your own.

MICHAL

(nonchalantly) Oh, I have sons.

ABSALOM

Metaphorically speaking, Aunt Michal.

MICHAL

(She smiles.) I have five sons.  Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Hananiah, Shebuel.  I have adopted my sister Merab's boys.

ABSALOM

(pleased) Oh, but that was clever. Aunt Michal.  Shebuel too.  There is no one I would rather Tamar married than your son, Aunt Michal. --

My father spoke of Shebuel as Merab's son.

MICHAL

He may speak of him as he likes; he is mine.

ABSALOM

And now Shebuel is also a contender to the throne? -- (Michal shrugs.) --Is that why you adopted him?

MICHAL

Of course not.

ABSALOM

Then why?

MICHAL

Merab is my sister, and her sons are of my lineage.  They are the grandsons of Saul -- King Saul -- whose line it was prophesied would not continue.  Through me and Merab, Saul's line is continued.

ABSALOM

So it would be if you did not adopt her sons.

MICHAL

But my line would be ended. –

But that does not matter for a woman. But listen; this matters:

They say to the women, ''How are your children?  Are your daughters happy?  Are your sons promising?"  And the mothers answer, "They are well.  They are happy.  They are promising."  Or they answer their intimate friends — they have intimate friends -- "I am concerned over such and such a matter;" "This worries me;" and, "I delight in thus and so."  So much gaiety.  So many cares.  So much to hang a life on.  And they are happy among the daughters of Israel, because the daughters call them happy.

But to me the women said, "My children are well, they are happy, they are promising."

Now we are intimates.  They recall how hard their labors were, how heavy their pregnancies.  And I say, "My labor was easy, my pregnancies were light."  I have a joke to share with them when they are sharing confidences.  I am someone among the daughters of Israel now, a woman among the women.

Who are women?  We are not soldiers, nor builders, nor princes.  We are mothers.

ABSALOM

You would have been a good soldier. Aunt Michal.

MICHAL

I would have beer a good mother, Absalom.

(Music, very softly, whistled or on a reed: "It's All Bound to Change.")

ABSALOM

Did it change. Aunt Michal?

MICHAL

Yes

ABSALOM

Not with my father.

MICHAL

No.

ABSALOM

But it changed.

MICHAL

I am someone of consequence now.

ABSALOM

You always were, Aunt Michal.

MICHAL

I did not feel that I was.  It is good to have you home in Jerusalem, Absalom.

ABSALOM

(smiling) Sharing confidences.

MICHAL

(smiling) My labors were effortless, but my pregnancies were a burden to my soul.

ABSALOM

I don't get the joke.

MICHAL

(serenely) It doesn't matter.  -- You are like a son to me.  I have five sons.  But Maacah's son is like a son to me.

(While she is speaking, a man enters.  His clothes are torn, he is barefoot -- the clothes are not worn and ragged, but good clothes that have been ripped deliberately.  He waits near David's tent, hesitant.)

ABSALOM

(quietly, to Michal) That man is from Beth-Shean.  I stopped at his house for the night when I was travelling from Geshur.

MICHAL

He is wearing mourning.

ABSALOM

He was not mourning then.

MICHAL

Death has struck his family.

ABSALOM

He has come to tell my father there is plague in Beth-Shean.

MICHAL

There was plague in Geshur when Joab came for you.

ABSALOM

Now there is plague in Beth-Shean, where I stayed the night.

MICHAL

You are not to blame.  You could not have known.

ABSALOM

No.

MICHAL

All the same, we must be politic.

(pause)

ABSALOM

(to the man in mourning) Shemariah!  You are welcome to Jerusalem.  -- But you come in sorrow.

SHEMARIAH

I have business with the king, Absalom, urgent and terrible.

ABSALOM

What can be done? The king is too busy nowadays to bear with interruption, and the man who hears petitioners is also busy, and he lives in a distant quarter of the city.

MICHAL

You can hear your friend, Absalom.

ABSALOM

I?  (to Shemariah) This is Michal, Shemariah, my father's wife, the daughter of Saul. (Shemariah bows.)

MICHAL

Hear your friend's business, Absalom.  Then bring him to your father if that seems best.  Or convey his message to him, if that is better.  -- He is the son of King David, Shemariah.  He is a prince of Israel.

(Shemariah prostrates himself. Absalom raises him up and kisses him.)

ABSALOM

(slowly, to the man in mourning) What news do you bring; to Jerusalem, Shemariah?

(The lights dim.)

(The lights rise on David and Absalom, inside the tent.  Nathan enters.)

NATHAN

(stiffly) You sent for me.

DAVID

Come in, Nathan. Let us pray.

NATHAN

On what matter?

DAVID

Regarding; the plague, of course.  Plague has fallen on Israel.

(pause)

NATHAN

And who brought the plague?

DAVID

The Lord.

NATHAN

(insistently; restating the question) What caused the plague?

DAVID

Who knows?

NATHAN

(letting the matter rest) The Lord our God, the Lord knows.  Let us pray.

(pause)

DAVID

(praying)
Lord, Your servants are dead.
From Dan to Beersheba they blacken and swell.
Yea, to the outskirts of Jerusalem they blacken and die.
And death lies over the land like rain.

NATHAN

Who of Israel has offended You, 0 God?

DAVID

Dan is dead, like Saul; Rehob, like Jonathan;
Like Uriah lain in battle, Beersheba lies.
And will You see Your city, even Jerusalem destroyed?

The wheatstalks bend, the cattle go untended.

NATHAN

Beth-Shean, like Amnon, is dead.

DAVID

Like Uriah slain in battle, Beersheba lies.
Like the spouse of Bathsheba, Beersheba.

NATHAN

Who of Israel is the bearer of blood guilt?

DAVID

The olives fall, the goats run wild on the mountains.

NATHAN

Beth-Shean is dead.

DAVID

The settlements of Israel like soldiers slain under the shield.

NATHAN

Beth-Shean,like Amnon.

ABSALOM

Rehob, like Jonathan.

DAVID

Wonderful was his love for me,
Passing the love of women.

NATHAN

Who of Israel has brought blood guilt on the people?

(pause)

DAVID

Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out my iniquities.

NATHAN

Whose is the sin that cries out for atonement?  Who has done iniquitously in Israel?  Who?

Thus says the Lord: "One who dwells now in Israel.  One who has fled.  One who has fled and has returned to us."

(He looks at Absalom.)

DAVID

Many years ago I fled to Gath.  And I returned.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity.

Like Uriah slain in battle, Beersheba lies.
Like the spouse of Bathsheba, Beersheba.

NATHAN

Beth-Shean, like Amnon,is dead.

DAVID

I know my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me.

(pause)

NATHAN

Who has sinned against the Lord, King David?

(Nathan looks at Absalom.)

DAVID

I sent Uriah to the forefront of the battle.  Therefore the sword will not depart from my house, and the plague has laid siege to my people.

NATHAN

A plague is not a sword, King David.  Uriah's death was atoned, with the death of Bathsheba's son.  Who of Israel has sinned against the Lord?

(He looks at Absalom.)

DAVID

I have shed blood abundantly, in many wars.  And though it was for the good of Israel, yet for that reason I may not construct the Temple, nor altars to the Lord.

NATHAN

That is your penance, then. -- Who among us is the bearer of blood guilt?

(He looks at Absalom.)

DAVID

Four years ago I took a census of the people of Israel.

NATHAN

(surprised) What's that?

DAVID

Joab was against it, and so was my son Absalom.  A great people is not to be numbered.  And for this reason the Lord has smitten the people: on account of the census I took.

NATHAN

Is it even so, King David?

DAVID

It is so.

(praying) Lo, I have sinned, Lord, and I have done iniquitously; but these sheep, what have they done?  Let Your hand, I pray You, be against me, and against my father's house, but not against my people.

(pause)

NATHAN

Lo, you have numbered the Lord's people, and He is wroth: but He is merciful.  Build Him an altar on the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite, and your sin will be forgiven.

And I say you shall build altars again to the name of the Lord, though you shall not build the Temple.

And the plague will last three days.  Neither will the plague smite the citizens of Jerusalem; but seventy thousand Israelites will the Lord smite.

(The lights dim.)

(They rise again on David and Absalom.)

DAVID

The plague is ended, Absalom, after three days' duration, as Nathan foretold.  My son Eliada, your brother, died, and also my son Chileab, a grown man.  On the third day I constructed an altar as the Lord directed me, and the plague ended.

ABSALOM

In Geshur the course of the plague was three days too.

DAVID

Did the Geshurites construct an altar?

ABSALOM

My grandfather put up many altars during those days, and on the third day the altars "took,"as the doctors say.

DAVID

The mercy of the Lord is infinite.  Praised be His name who spared so many thousands; even I and you.

ABSALOM

Praised be His name.  They are saying;. Father, that in the plains of Durah and of Tabor the rats have fled out of their holes on account of the plague, and they have fled across the wheatfields and the cornfields, eating the wheat and the corn in their flight.  There will be a famine in Israel.

DAVID

I will build an altar to the name of the Lord, and the famine will ease.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

(The lights dim.)

(They rise again.)

DAVID

I have built another altar to the Lord, Absalom.  The famine will ease and end.

ABSALOM

You have built quite a let of altars, Father, since the famine started.  And on every altar cattle are offered daily.  That is meat that Israelites might eat.  You would do better make a treaty with the Syrians and purchase grain from them.  What is the good of altars and burnt offerings, when the famine continues?  And might we not be eating the cattle while awaiting grain from Syria?

DAVID

There is famine in Syria also, Absalom.

(The lights dim.)

(They rise again.)

DAVID

Jerusalem is a princess among the cities;
Jerusalem upon Mount Zion, like a princess with her women.
The city unpeopled, the people fled
From the slopes and plains of Zion,
Is like a princess without robe or sandals,
Barefoot over the cobbles;
Tamar in the days of her shame.
And how will Jerusalem be consoled if her citizens are slain?

Three years we have called out to the Lord: Why?
After the plague came the rats, and after the rats a blight,
        and after the blight a drought, and the drought endures.
Our flocks are scattered, our rivers are dried up,
Our fruitful plains are become as a desert that advances daily;
And the famine You have laid on us abates not.
Wherein has Israel offended You, 0 God?
And how can we make atonement?

There is bloodguilt on the land, Absalom; surely there is bloodguilt.  Therefore Israel asks: Whose is the guilt that cries unto the Lord?

ABSALOM

Must it be a matter of guilt?

DAVID

What else?  -- Now, I have noted, Absalom, that two of my sons perished in the famine and two perished in the plague that preceded it.  But no son of Merab's perished.  Those are the boys that Michal adopted.

Now, it is extraordinary for a woman to undertake adoption.  She can not provide for children; neither has she an inheritance to give them; nor has she a name to continue.  Therefore I wonder, why has the Lord sustained these five when four of my own sons He has undercut?  And I wonder, for what purpose has the Lord preserved these five?

The house of David will endure forever, but the house of Saul will come to an end; it was prophesied.

Two sons of mine perished in the famine: Elishama and Amnon.

ABSALOM

Amnon?

DAVID

Did I say Amnon?  Ithream.  Shebuel, who proposes to be my son-in-law, speaks against me publicly, saying it is on account of bloodguilt in my house that famine abides in Israel.  But as for me, I say: "Why has the Lord spared Shebuel and his brothers?  For what purpose, the five sons of Merab, that Michal my wife calls her sons?

The wisdom of the Lord is infinite, and none can tell His purpose till He reveal it.

Let us summon Nathan the prophet, and let us counsel with him.

(The lights dim.)

(The lights rise on David, Absalom, and Nathan, praying.)

DAVID

Who of the house of David has offended the Lord?
Yea, who of Israel has evoked Your wrath, 0 God?
Three years You have laid famine on the land.

NATHAN

Who among; us is the bearer of blood guilt?

(He looks at Absalom.)

DAVID

I sent Uriah to the forefront of the battle.

NATHAN

That was atoned for.

DAVID

I took a census.

NATHAN

There was a plague; the census was atoned for.

(He looks at Absalom.)

DAVID

My son Amnon violated my daughter Tamar.

NATHAN

Amnon is dead; the violation was atoned for; yea, more than atoned.

(He looks at Absalom.)

Who of Israel is the bearer of blood guilt?

(pause)

DAVID

I have been single-hearted toward my God, and 1 have not wickedly departed from Him.  I have been upright before the Lord.  (suddenly) The famine is for Saul, and his bloody house, because he put to death the Gibeonites.

NATHAN

(startled) that's that?

DAVID

What shall I do for the Gibeonites?  And how shall I make atonement?

King Saul, my predecessor, made a treaty with the Gibeonites, and the children of Israel swore to them, but Saul slew them, all but a remnant, in his zeal.  -- How shall I make atonement, that the Gibeonites may bless us?

Seven descendants of Saul I will give to the Gibeonites.  The sons of Rizpah, Saul's concubine, are two.  But I will not give Meribaal, the son of Jonathan, on account of my love for his father Jonathan.  The two of Rizpah; and five more.

I will give the five sons of Michal to the Gibeonites.

And the Gibeonites will hang the sons of Michal in the mountain before the Lord.  They will put them to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, at the beginning of the barley harvest: the two sons of Rizpah and Michal her five sons.

The famine is over.

(The lights dim.)

(The lights rise on David and Absalom. Absalom is harping.)

ABSALOM

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving,
Sing praises upon the harp to our God,
Who covers the heavens with clouds,
Who prepares rain for the earth.
He gives to Israel the finest of the wheat.

DAVID

You have forgotten some verses.

He gives snow like wool;
He scatters frost like ashes.
He casts forth His ice like crumbs;
Who can stand before His cold?

For the Lord who gives rain, gives all things; and He gives wheat to Israel, and He withholds it.  In all years and seasons let Israel bless the Lord, in the years of plenty and the years of lean.  All things are the Lord's, and to Him all come.

Play.

ABSALOM

(harping)

You have remembered the earth, and watered her, greatly enriching her,
Watering her ridges abundantly,
Settling down the furrows thereof --

DAVID

(musing) We will build Him His temple, Absalom, in the middle of Jerusalem my city.  It will be to the city as the hearth to the home, and as the ruby to the crown.  Jerusalem shall be as a golden crown upon the head of the Lord of hosts, and the temple shall be its chief jewel.

ABSALOM

May it be.

(harping)

You make her soft with showers;
You bless the growth thereof.

DAVID

I have ordered stones and metals for the temple.

ABSALOM

I know.

DAVID

My son who reigns after me will build it, to the name of the Lord. -- It is good to talk of these things again, Absalom, after hard years.

ABSALOM

You crown the year with Your goodness;
Your paths drop fatness.

DAVID

It is time to anoint my successor.  I promised his mother young Solomon should reign after me.  Play.

ABSALOM

The pastures of the wilderness –

(He stops, about to speak.)

DAVID

Play.  We have come through hard years to a pleasant time, and I will hear music, and perhaps I will sleep.

ABSALOM

You have remembered the earth, and watered her, greatly enriching her ...

(The lights change.)

The meadows are clothed with flocks;
The valleys also are covered over with corn;
They shout for joy, yea, they sing.

(David is asleep. Absalom stops playing, and David wakes.)

DAVID

Play.

(Absalom plays, and David sleeps.)

ABSALOM

A psalm of Ethan the Ezrahite.
I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever.
"I have made a covenant with My chosen;
I have sworn to David My servant:
Forever will I establish Your seed,
And build up Your throne to all generations."

(He stops playing.)

DAVID

(half-waking) Play.

ABSALOM

A psalm of Asaph.
Give ear, 0 my people, to my teaching;
Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

(David sleeps.)

The Lord established a testimony in Jacob,
And appointed a law in Israel.

(Absalom flexes his ankle, looks at it.)

The children of Ephraim -were as archers handling the bow
That turned back in the day of battle.

(He flexes the other ankle.)

They kept not the covenant of God,
They refused to walk in His law.

(He looks at his calf muscles, still psalming.)

Marvelous things He did in the sight of their fathers,
In the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.

(He admires his biceps.}

He cleaved the sea, and caused them to pass through.

(He flexes his ankles again.)

He cleaved rocks in the wilderness,
And caused streams to run out of the rock.

(He yawns, still harping.)

Yet they went on to sin against Him.
And God greatly abhorred Israel.
He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh,
And delivered His strength into the adversary's hand.

(Tamar comes to the entrance of the tent.)

He gave His people over unto the sword.

(Absalom gestures Tamar to come in, and she comes and sits beside him.)

Fire devoured their young men,
And their virgins had no marriage-song.
Their priests fell by the sword,
And their widows made no lamentation.

(He stops playing.)

DAVID

(half-waking) Play.

ABSALOM

Then the Lord awaked as one asleep,
Like a mighty man recovering from wine.
He chose David His servant
And took him from the sheepfolds --

Enough of a psalm of Asaph.

A psalm of Absalom.
For the sons of Michal.
Lo, how these five were comely,
Valiant among the sons of Israel.
A song for five who died young.

The time of famine is over.
Our tables are full.
But the five sons of Michal will not sit with us at supper,
Even Shebuel, the betrothed of the daughter of David.

"There is supper a-plenty for all," said the daughter of David,
"But none for the sons of Michal, the descendants of Saul.
Woe and alas for Tamar," said the daughter of David.
"Alas for Shebuel, where the wild birds are."

A song for five who died young.
A song of Absalom for the sons of Michal.

(Tamar sings. Her voice is very pleasing.)

TAMAR

(singing)

Farewell, farewell, my own true love,
Farewell, farewell, my dear.
Though I come, though I call,
Though I wait until nightfall,
I will not find you here.

ABSALOM

(harping)

Then Tamar sang sweetly, singing of her dead lover.

TAMAR

(singing)

He might have been a prince in Jerusalem.
He might have been a king in Israel.
But he has gone a-travelling
By order of the king
To the mountain where the Gibeonites dwell.

The wild birds settle on my true love's brow.
The wild beasts gather at his knee.
And his wedding crown
Is all of briars brown,
Falling from the briar tree.

ABSALOM

(harping)

Then Absalom the brother of the daughter of David, Absalom the son of David sang.

(singing)

You might have been a bride in Jerusalem.
You might have been a queen in Israel.

TAMAR

But my love has gone a-travelling
By order of the king
To the mountain where the Gibeonites dwell.

ABSALOM

Farewell, farewell, my sister's love.
Farewell, farewell, her dear.

TAMAR

His wedding suit
Is of the briar root.

ABSALOM

She will not find you here.

Who is next?

TAMAR

(puzzled) Who is next??

ABSALOM

(singing)

There was a plague in Israel
It made the people falter
King David put an end to it
By putting up an altar
By putting up an altar
He blamed it on a census
And he stopped it with an altar

There was a famine in the land
It made the nation feeble
King David called a halt to it
By hanging seven people
By hanging seven people
He blamed it on a dead man
And he hanged up seven people

TAMAR

(whispering) He'll hear you.

ABSALOM

(whispering) He's sleeping;.

DAVID

(half-waking;) Play.

ABSALOM

(singing)

It doesn't matter what you say.
Just keep the music going.
And who will pay for the next disaster
Nobody is knowing.
Earthquake, avalanche, fire, flood --

TAMAR

Any unusual act of God —

ABSALOM

Who will pay with his body and his blood?
Nobody is knowing.

TAMAR

But my apprehension's growing.

ABSALOM

Watch out for the next calamity.

TAMAR

(spoken)

Because it might be you.

ABSALOM

(spoken) It might be me,

DAVID

(half-waking) Play.

TAMAR

(singing)

It doesn't matter what we fear.
Just keep the music going.

ABSALOM

Going

TAMAR

         Going

ABSALOM

             Going

TAMAR

                     going

BOTH (Absalom and Tamar)

Keep the music going.

ABSALOM

(pleased) I didn't know you could make up songs.

TAMAR

Aunt Michal taught me.

DAVID

(half-waking) Play.

ABSALOM

(sinking)

I didn't know you could sing.

TAMAR

(singing)

Aunt Michal taught me how.
Do you think he's listening?

ABSALOM

(singing)

I don't care anyhow.

TAMAR

Absalom!!

(Absalom harps, talking underneath the music.)

ABSALOM

Tamar, the census didn't cause the plague.

TAMAR

I wouldn't think so.

ABSALOM

And building the altar did not end it.  It had run its course.  Neither did Saul's massacre of the Gibeonites thirty years ago cause the famine.

TAMAR

No.

ABSALOM

And the hanging of Shebuel did not end it.

TAMAR

Shebuel was hanged at harvesttime.

ABSALOM

Famines end at harvest time. --

TAMAR

Many men of Israel believed these things.

ABSALOM

The king should not believe them.

TAMAR

A king can make mistakes.

ABSALOM

But he has got to have some commonsense.

Tamar, now he want to put up a Temple.  He is not to build it, but he will see that his successor does -- whoever his successor may be.  Oh, the world has not seen the likes of this Temple.  Israel has had three years of famine, we have had a plague, we are surrounded by enemies, our treasuries are half-empty and so are our cities; we have barely recovered from three years of famine and David has ordered for this Temple: iron; brass; cedar; stone; silver; gold; onyx; marble -- and several other things.  He is an old man, Tamar, and he has gone mad, as his predecessor did.

(wildly; singing)

Earthquake, avalanche, fire, flood --

TAMAR

(automatically)

Any unusual act of God --

ABSALOM

Who will pay with his body and his blood?

David will.

(He stops harping.  Tamar looks at him.  She looks at David, and at Absalom again.)

I am fitter to be king than David is.  David will destroy Israel.

TAMAR

(whispering) Play.

(He harps again.)

ABSALOM

He brought us into Jerusalem when he was young.  But now he is old and he will level Jerusalem.

TAMAR

Do you believe that?

ABSALOM

I believe it, Tamar.  And you believe it.

TAMAR

I believe you are in danger, Absalom.  I believe they will turn on you for the murder of Amnon.  I believe that dreadful Nathan is against you.  But as for David's destroying Israel --

ABSALOM

I believe it. You believe it. And many men of Israel will believe it.

(singing)

Watch out for the next calamity.

(spoken)

But it won't be you.  And it won't be me.

Because you know what the next calamity is, Tamar.

TAMAR

Earthquake? Fire? Flood?

ABSALOM

Insurrection.

(He lays aside the harp, and exits.  David opens his eyes; he is not like a man who has been asleep.)

DAVID

0 Absalom. 0 Absalom.

TAMAR

It is not Absalom.  It is Tamar.  Absalom has gone out.

(David blows, as if extinguishing a candle.)

(Blackout.)

(in the blackness:)

MESSENGER

Absalom has gone up into the city with a thousand men, and he has gone in unto your concubines. King David.

(The lights rise on David and Nathan.)

NATHAN

And this he has done in the sight of all Israel, King David.

DAVID

May you enjoy your ascendancy while you have it, Absalom, Absalom my son.

(Blackout.)

(in the blackness;)

JOAB

Absalom has gathered twelve thousand men in the plain of Mount Zion to rise up and pursue you, David.  But I have gathered a hundred thousand men at the summit of Zion.

DAVID

Deal gently for my sake with the young man, Joab, even with Absalom.

(The lights rise on David, alone. Blackout.)

(in the blackness:)

WATCHMAN

Two men come running, my lord, one near; the other, Nathan the prophet, is a long way off.

(pause)

MESSENGER

(calling) All is well, my lord the king.  (He arrives, out of breath.) Blessed be the Lord our God, who has delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against you.

DAVID

Is it well with the young man Absalom?

MESSENGER

I saw a great tumult, my lord, but I did not stay to find out what it was.

(pause)

(The lights rise, dimly, on David. Nathan enters, out of breath.)

Good tidings for my lord the king.  For the Lord has avenged you this day of all then that rose up against you.

DAVID

Is it well with the young man Absalom?

NATHAN

The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise up against you to do you hurt, may they be as that young man is!

(The lights rise, very brightly.)

DAVID

0 my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom,
Would God I had died for thee, 0 Absalom,
My son, my son!

(Nathan exits.)

0 my son Absalom, 0 Absalom, my son, my son!

(Michal enters.)

0 Absalom, my son!

(The lights soften.)

MICHAL

He was musical and full of promise.
And Shebuel my son was full of promise.
Hananiah my son was a youth of great courage.
And Kattaniah my son was the pride of his mother and me.
     King Saul is laid in the earth.
My brother Jonathan, wonderful was his love.

Jonathan and I,
We thought we would be your aides and confidants.
It did not turn out that way.

DAVID

You have always been close to me, Michal.

MICHAL

(tranquilly) One way or another. -- I met Nathan coming out as I came in.

DAVID

He is full of wisdom; he comes inopportunely.

Let him speak the word of the Lord as he hears it. --

MICHAL

What shall be done for Absalom's mother?

DAVID

For Maacah? Whatever she asks.  And for Shebuel's mother?

MICHAL

For Merab?

DAVID

For you. --

MICHAL

I have had what I wanted for the most part.  Not as I wanted it, but I have had it.  I have had sons, and some power, and some dignity.  We have had some good times.  Now --

Build me a house, David.

DAVID

Where?

MICHAL

In the city.  A small house, in the Jebusite quarter; near the marketplace, but not too near; and near the site of the temple, but not too near; and neither too far from King David nor too near.

DAVID

And Adonijah will come to your house, Michal? And Meribaal?

MICHAL

All the young contenders.

DAVID

And Solomon.

MICHAL

You have sworn that Solomon should reign after you. Do not put off his anointing any longer.

(She kisses him, without passion, like a sister, and she exits.  David wraps his cape closer about him.  The lights dim.)

(The lights rise on David.  Bathsheba enters.)

BATHSHEBA

You have sworn, my lord, by the Lord your God that Solomon my son should reign after you.

DAVID

It is time Solomon was anointed, Bathsheba.

BATHSHEBA

Let my lord King David reign forever. --

DAVID

I have assembled materials for the Temple.  Tell Solomon to build it when he is king.

BATHSHEBA

He intends to do so.

DAVID

As for me, I am cold.  Bring me a robe.

(She brings him a robe, and puts it over him.  The lights dim.)

(The lights rise.)

DAVID

As for my daughter Tamar, let her be married to the cripple Meribaal.  It is time Tamar was married.

BATHSHEBA

I will tell them.

DAVID

As for my son Adonijah, let Solomon be wary of him.  He covets the throne, even as Amnon, even as Absalom, even Shebuel.  For the sword will not depart from the house of David, on account of the death of Uriah.  But Meribaal does not covet the throne; Solomon need not take care regarding Meribaal.

BATHSHEBA

I will tell him.

(pause)

DAVID

I am cold.

(She brings him a blanket and covers him with it. The lights dim.)

(The lights rise again.)

DAVID

As for my wife Michal, let her be set up in her own house in the city; and also all my wives, have them set up in comfort; and you, Bathsheba.

But as for me, I am old and stricken in years, and I get no heat.  Let there be brought for me to warm me, let there be brought for me an account of the cold, let there be brought -- (tenderly) -- a young woman, a virgin, to lie in my arms in the nights.

(The lights dim. The play is over.)