[He drains the cup, and lets it fall.]
TIME: A week later
The fore-court of the House of Rimmon. At the back the broad steps and double doors of the shrine; above them the tower of the god, its summit invisible. Enter various groups of citizens, talking, laughing, shouting: RAKHAZ, HAZAEL, SHUMAKIM and others.
Great news, glorious news, the Assyrians are beaten!
Naaman is returning, crowned with victory. Glory to our noble
No, he is killed. I had it from one of the camp-followers who
saw him fall at the head of the battle. They are bringing
his body to bury it with honour. O sorrowful victory!
Peace, my good fellows, you are ignorant, you have not been
rightly informed, I will misinform you. The accounts of
Naaman’s death are overdrawn. He was killed, but his life
has been preserved. One of his wounds was mortal, but the
other three were curable, and by these the physicians have
SHUMAKIM: [Balancing himself before RAKHAZ in
O wonderful! Most admirable logic! One mortal, and three
curable, therefore he must recover as it were, by three
to one. Rakhaz, do you know that you are a marvelous man?
Yes, I know it, but I make no boast of my knowledge.
Too modest, for in knowing this you know more than any other
[Enter, from the right, SABALLIDIN
in armour: from
the left, TSARPI with her attendants, among whom
Here is Saballidin, we’ll question him;
He was enflamed by Naaman’s wild words,
And rode with him to battle. Give us news,
Of your great captain! Is he safe and well?
When will he come? Or will he come at all?
[All gather around him listening eagerly.]
He comes but now, returning from the field
Where he hath gained a crown of deathless fame!
Three times he led the charge; three times he fell
Wounded, and the Assyrians beat us back.
Yet every wound was but a spur to urge
His valour onward. In the last attack
He rode before us as the crested wave
That leads the flood; and lo, our enemies
Were broken like a dam of river-reeds.
The flying King encircled by his guard
Was lodged like driftwood on a little hill.
Then Naaman, who led our foremost band
Of whirlwind riders, hammered through the hedge
Of spearmen, brandishing the golden yoke.
“Take back this gift,” he cried; and shattered it