A room in the women’s apartments of the palace.
Andromeda, Diomede, Praxilla.
My brother lives then?
Thanks to Tyre, it seems.
Thanks to the wolf who means to eat him later.
You’ll lose your tongue some morning; rule it girl.
These kings, these politicians, these high masters!
These wise blind men! We slaves have eyes at least
To look beyond transparency.
We stand outside the heated game unmoved
By interests, fears and passions.
He is a wolf, for I have seen him teeth.
Yet must you marry him, my little princess.
What, to be torn in pieces by the teeth.
Yet must you marry him, my little princess.
What, to be torn in pieces by the teeth?
I think the gods will not allow this marriage.
I know not what the gods may do: be sure,
I’ll not allow it.
You must obey your parents: ’tis not right,
This wilfulness. Why, you’re a child! You think
You can oppose the will of mighty monarchs?
Be good; obey your father.
And if my father bade me take a knife
And cut my face and limbs and stab my eyes,
Must I do that?
Where are you with your wild fancies?
Your father would not bid you do such things.
Because they’d hurt me?
It hurts me more
To marry Phineus.
O you sly logic-splitter!
You dialectitian, you sunny-curled small sophist
Chop logic with your father. I’m tired of you.
Father, I have been waiting for you.
I’ll not believe it. You? (caressing her) My rosy Syrian!
My five-foot lady! My small queen of Tyre!
Yes, you are tired of playing with the ball.
You wait for me!
I was waiting. Here are
Two kisses for you.
Oh, now I understand.
You dancing rogue, you’re not so free with kisses:
I have to pay for them, small cormorant.
What is it now? a talking Tyrian doll?
Or a strong wooden horse with silken wings
To fly up to the gold rims of the moon?
I will not kiss you if you talk like that.
I am a woman now. As if I wanted
Such nonsense, father!
Oh, you’re a woman now?
Then ’tis a robe from Cos, sandals fur-lined
Or belt all silver. Young diplomatist,
I know you. You keep these ripplings showers of gold
Upon your head to buy your wishes with.
Therefore you packed your small red lips with honey.
Well, usurer, what’s the price you want?
I want, –
But, father, will you give me what I want?
I’ld give you the bright sun from heaven for plaything
To make you happy, girl Andromeda.
I want the Babulonians who were wrecked
In the great ship today, to be my slaves,
Was ever such a perverse witch?
To ask the only thing I cannot give!
Can I not have them, father?
They are Poseidon’s.
Oh then you love Poseidon more than me!
Why should he have them!
Fie, child! The mighty gods
Are masters of the earth and sea and heavens,
And all that is, is theirs. We are their stewards.
But what is once restored into their hands
Is thenceforth holy: he who even gazes
With greedy eye upon divine possessions,
Is guilty in Heaven’s sight and may awake
A dreadful wrath. These men Andromeda
Must bleed upon the altar of the God.
Speak not of them again: they are devoted.
Is he a god who eats the flesh of men?
O hush, blasphemer!
Father, give command,
To have Praxilla here boiled for my breakfast.
I’ll be a goddess too.
She talks. Oh but it gives me a shivering fever
Somietimes to hear her.
What mean you, dread gods?
Purpose you then the ruin of my house
Preparing in my children the offences
That must excuse your wrath? Andromeda,
My little daughter, speak not like this again
I charge you, no, nor think it. The mighty gods
Dwell far above the laws that govern men
And are not to be mapped by mortal judgements,
It is Poseidon’s will these men should die
Upon his altar. ‘Tis not to be questioned.
It shall be questioned. Let your God go hungry.
I am amazed! Did you not hear me, child?
On the third day from now these men shall die.
The same high evening ties you fast with nuptials
To Phineus, who shall take you home to Tyre.
On Tyre let the wrath fall, if it must come.
Father, you’ll understand this once for all, -
I will not let the Babylonians die,
I will not marry Phineus.
Oh, you will not?
Here is a queen, of Tyre and all the world;
How mutinous – majestically this smallness
Divulges her decrees, making the most
Of her five feet of gold and cream and roses!
And why will you not marry Phineus, rebel?
He does not please me.
School your likings, rebel.
It is most needful Syria mate with Tyre.
And you are Syria.
Why, father, if you gave me a toy, you’ld ask
What toy I like! If you gave me a robe
Or vase, you would consult my taste in these!
Must I marry any cold-eyed crafty husband
I do not like?
You do not like! You do not like!
Thou silly child, must the high policy
Of Princes then be governed by thy likings?
‘Tis policy, ’tis kingly policy
That made this needful marriage, and it shall not
For your spoilt childish likings be unmade.
What, you look sullen? What, you frown, virago?
Look, if you mutiny, I’ll have you whipped.
You would not dare.
Of course you would not.
As if I were afraid of you!
You are spoiled,
You are spoiled! Your mother spoils you, you wilful sunbeam.
Come, you provoking minx, you’ll marry Phineus?
I will not, father. If I must marry, then
I’ll marry my bright sungod! and none else
In the wide world.
Your sungod! Is that all?
Shall I not send an envoy to Olympus
And call the Thunderer here to marry you?
You’re not ambitions?
It is not that she means;
She speaks of the bright youth her brother rescued.
Since she has heard of him, no meaner talk
Is on her lips.
Who is this radiant coxcomb?
Whence did he come to se my Syria in a whirl?
For him my son’s in peril of his life,
For him my daughter will not marry Tyre.
Oh, Polydaon’s right. He must be killed
Before he does more mischief. Andromeda,
On the third day you marry Tyrian Phineus.
He goes out hurriedly.
That was a valiant shot timed to a most diascret-departure.
Parthian tactics are best when we deal with mutinous daughters.
Andromeda, you will obey your father?
You are not in my counsels. You’re too faithful.
Virtuous and wise, and virtuously you would
Betray me. There is a thing full-grown in me
That you shall only know by the result.
Diomede, come; for I need help not counsel.
What means she now! Her whims are as endless as the tossing of leaves in a wind. But you will find out and tell me, Diomede.
I will find out certainly, but as to telling, that is as it shall please me-and my little mistress.
You shall be whipped.
She runs out.
The child is spoiled herself and she spoils her servants. There is no managing any of them.
She goes out.