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Full Online Book HomePlaysAndrocles And The Lion - ACT I
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Androcles And The Lion - ACT I Post by :tonyaz Category :Plays Author :George Bernard Shaw Date :January 2011 Read :3328

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Androcles And The Lion - ACT I

Evening. The end of three converging roads to Rome. Three
triumphal arches span them where they debouch on a square at the
gate of the city. Looking north through the arches one can see
the campagna threaded by the three long dusty tracks. On the east
and west sides of the square are long stone benches. An old
beggar sits on the east side of the square, his bowl at his feet.
Through the eastern arch a squad of Roman soldiers tramps along
escorting a batch of Christian prisoners of both sexes and all
ages, among them one Lavinia, a goodlooking resolute young woman,
apparently of higher social standing than her fellow-prisoners. A
centurion, carrying his vinewood cudgel, trudges alongside the
squad, on its right, in command of it. All are tired and dusty;
but the soldiers are dogged and indifferent, the Christians
light-hearted and determined to treat their hardships as a joke
and encourage one another.

A bugle is heard far behind on the road, where the rest of the
cohort is following.

CENTURION (stopping) Halt! Orders from the Captain. (They halt
and wait). Now then, you Christians, none of your larks. The
captain's coming. Mind you behave yourselves. No singing. Look
respectful. Look serious, if you're capable of it. See that big
building over there? That's the Coliseum. That's where you'll be
thrown to the lions or set to fight the gladiators presently.
Think of that; and it'll help you to behave properly before the
captain. (The Captain arrives). Attention! Salute! (The soldiers
salute).

A CHRISTIAN (cheerfully) God bless you, Captain.

THE CENTURION (scandalised) Silence!

The Captain, a patrician, handsome, about thirty-five, very cold
and distinguished, very superior and authoritative, steps up on a
stone seat at the west side of the square, behind the centurion,
so as to dominate the others more effectually.

THE CAPTAIN. Centurion.

THE CENTURION. (standing at attention and saluting) Sir?

THE CAPTAIN (speaking stiffly and officially) You will remind
your men, Centurion, that we are now entering Rome. You will
instruct them that once inside the gates of Rome they are in the
presence of the Emperor. You will make them understand that the
lax discipline of the march cannot be permitted here. You will
instruct them to shave every day, not every week. You will
impress on them particularly that there must be an end to the
profanity and blasphemy of singing Christian hymns on the march.
I have to reprimand you, Centurion, for not only allowing this,
but actually doing it yourself.

THE CENTURION. The men march better, Captain.

THE CAPTAIN. No doubt. For that reason an exception is made in
the case of the march called Onward Christian Soldiers. This may
be sung, except when marching through the forum or within hearing
of the Emperor's palace; but the words must be altered to "Throw
them to the Lions."

The Christians burst into shrieks of uncontrollable laughter, to
the great scandal of the Centurion.

CENTURION. Silence! Silen-n-n-n-nce! Where's your behavior? Is
that the way to listen to an officer? (To the Captain) That's
what we have to put up with from these Christians every day, sir.
They're always laughing and joking something scandalous. They've
no religion: that's how it is.

LAVINIA. But I think the Captain meant us to laugh, Centurion. It
was so funny.

CENTURION. You'll find out how funny it is when you're thrown to
the lions to-morrow. (To the Captain, who looks displeased) Beg
pardon, Sir. (To the Christians) Silennnnce!

THE CAPTAIN. You are to instruct your men that all intimacy with
Christian prisoners must now cease. The men have fallen into
habits of dependence upon the prisoners, especially the female
prisoners, for cooking, repairs to uniforms, writing letters, and
advice in their private affairs. In a Roman soldier such
dependence is inadmissible. Let me see no more of it whilst we
are in the city. Further, your orders are that in addressing
Christian prisoners, the manners and tone of your men must
express abhorrence and contempt. Any shortcoming in this respect
will be regarded as a breach of discipline.(He turns to the
prisoners) Prisoners.

CENTURION (fiercely) Prisonerrrrrs! Tention! Silence!

THE CAPTAIN. I call your attention, prisoners, to the fact that
you may be called on to appear in the Imperial Circus at any time
from tomorrow onwards according to the requirements of the
managers. I may inform you that as there is a shortage of
Christians just now, you may expect to be called on very soon.

LAVINIA. What will they do to us, Captain?

CENTURION. Silence!

THE CAPTAIN. The women will be conducted into the arena with the
wild beasts of the Imperial Menagerie, and will suffer the
consequences. The men, if of an age to bear arms, will be given
weapons to defend themselves, if they choose, against the
Imperial Gladiators.

LAVINIA. Captain: is there no hope that this cruel persecution--

CENTURION (shocked) Silence! Hold your tongue, there.
Persecution, indeed!

THE CAPTAIN (unmoved and somewhat sardonic) Persecution is not a
term applicable to the acts of the Emperor. The Emperor is the
Defender of the Faith. In throwing you to the lions he will be
upholding the interests of religion in Rome. If you were to throw
him to the lions, that would no doubt be persecution.

The Christians again laugh heartily.

CENTURION (horrified) Silence, I tell you! Keep silence there.
Did anyone ever hear the like of this?

LAVINIA. Captain: there will be nobody to appreciate your jokes
when we are gone.

THE CAPTAIN (unshaken in his official delivery) I call the
attention of the female prisoner Lavinia to the fact that as the
Emperor is a divine personage, her imputation of cruelty is not
only treason, but sacrilege. I point out to her further that
there is no foundation for the charge, as the Emperor does not
desire that any prisoner should suffer; nor can any Christian be
harmed save through his or her own obstinacy. All that is
necessary is to sacrifice to the gods: a simple and convenient
ceremony effected by dropping a pinch of incense on the altar,
after which the prisoner is at once set free. Under such
circumstances you have only your own perverse folly to blame if
you suffer. I suggest to you that if you cannot burn a morsel of
incense as a matter of conviction, you might at least do so as a
matter of good taste, to avoid shocking the religious convictions
of your fellow citizens. I am aware that these considerations do
not weigh with Christians; but it is my duty to call your
attention to them in order that you may have no ground for
complaining of your treatment, or of accusing the Emperor of
cruelty when he is showing you the most signal clemency.
Looked at from this point of view, every Christian who has
perished in the arena has really committed suicide.

LAVINIA. Captain: your jokes are too grim. Do not think it is
easy for us to die. Our faith makes life far stronger and more
wonderful in us than when we walked in darkness and had nothing
to live for. Death is harder for us than for you: the martyr's
agony is as bitter as his triumph is glorious.

THE CAPTAIN (rather troubled, addressing her personally and
gravely) A martyr, Lavinia, is a fool. Your death will prove
nothing.

LAVINIA. Then why kill me?

THE CAPTAIN. I mean that truth, if there be any truth, needs no
martyrs.

LAVINIA. No; but my faith, like your sword, needs testing. Can
you test your sword except by staking your life on it?

THE CAPTAIN (suddenly resuming his official tone) I call the
attention of the female prisoner to the fact that Christians are
not allowed to draw the Emperor's officers into arguments and put
questions to them for which the military regulations provide no
answer. (The Christians titter).

LAVINIA. Captain: how CAN you?

THE CAPTAIN. I call the female prisoner's attention specially to
the fact that four comfortable homes have been offered her by
officers of this regiment, of which she can have her choice the
moment she chooses to sacrifice as all well-bred Roman ladies do.
I have no more to say to the prisoners.

CENTURION. Dismiss! But stay where you are.

THE CAPTAIN. Centurion: you will remain here with your men in
charge of the prisoners until the arrival of three Christian
prisoners in the custody of a cohort of the tenth legion. Among
these prisoners you will particularly identify an armorer named
Ferrovius, of dangerous character and great personal strength,
and a Greek tailor reputed to be a sorcerer, by name Androcles.
You will add the three to your charge here and march them all to
the Coliseum, where you will deliver them into the custody of the
master of the gladiators and take his receipt, countersigned by
the keeper of the beasts and the acting manager. You understand
your instructions?

CENTURION. Yes, Sir.

THE CAPTAIN. Dismiss. (He throws off his air of parade, and
descends down from the perch. The Centurion seats on it and
prepares for a nap, whilst his men stand at ease. The Christians
sit down on the west side of the square, glad to rest. Lavinia
alone remains standing to speak to the Captain).

LAVINIA. Captain: is this man who is to join us the famous
Ferrovius, who has made such wonderful conversions in the
northern cities?

THE CAPTAIN. Yes. We are warned that he has the strength of an
elephant and the temper of a mad bull. Also that he is stark mad.
Not a model Christian, it would seem.

LAVINIA. You need not fear him if he is a Christian, Captain.

THE CAPTAIN (coldly) I shall not fear him in any case, Lavinia.

LAVINIA (her eyes dancing) How brave of you, Captain!

THE CAPTAIN. You are right: it was silly thing to say. (In a
lower tone, humane and urgent) Lavinia: do Christians know how to
love?

LAVINIA (composedly) Yes, Captain: they love even their enemies.

THE CAPTAIN. Is that easy?

LAVINIA. Very easy, Captain, when their enemies are as handsome
as you.

THE CAPTAIN. Lavinia: you are laughing at me.

LAVINIA. At you, Captain! Impossible.

THE CAPTAIN. Then you are flirting with me, which is worse. Don't
be foolish.

LAVINIA. But such a very handsome captain.

THE CAPTAIN. Incorrigible! (Urgently) Listen to me. The men in
that audience tomorrow will be the vilest of voluptuaries: men in
whom the only passion excited by a beautiful woman is a lust to
see her tortured and torn shrieking limb from limb. It is a crime
to dignify that passion. It is offering yourself for violation by
the whole rabble of the streets and the riff-raff of the court at
the same time. Why will you not choose rather a kindly love and
an honorable alliance?

LAVINIA. They cannot violate my soul. I alone can do that by
sacrificing to false gods.

THE CAPTAIN. Sacrifice then to the true God. What does his name
matter? We call him Jupiter. The Greeks call him Zeus. Call him
what you will as you drop the incense on the altar flame: He will
understand.

LAVINIA. No. I couldn't. That is the strange thing, Captain, that
a little pinch of incense should make all that difference.
Religion is such a great thing that when I meet really religious
people we are friends at once, no matter what name we give to the
divine will that made us and moves us. Oh, do you think that I, a
woman, would quarrel with you for sacrificing to a woman god like
Diana, if Diana meant to you what Christ means to me? No: we
should kneel side by side before her altar like two children. But
when men who believe neither in my god nor in their own--men who
do not know the meaning of the word religion--when these men drag
me to the foot of an iron statue that has become the symbol of
the terror and darkness through which they walk, of their cruelty
and greed, of their hatred of God and their oppression of man--
when they ask me to pledge my soul before the people that this
hideous idol is God, and that all this wickedness and falsehood
is divine truth, I cannot do it, not if they could put a thousand
cruel deaths on me. I tell you, it is physically impossible.
Listen, Captain: did you ever try to catch a mouse in your hand?
Once there was a dear little mouse that used to come out and play
on my table as I was reading. I wanted to take him in my hand and
caress him; and sometimes he got among my books so that he could
not escape me when I stretched out my hand. And I did stretch out
my hand; but it always came back in spite of me. I was not afraid
of him in my heart; but my hand refused: it is not in the nature
of my hand to touch a mouse. Well, Captain, if I took a pinch of
incense in my hand and stretched it out over the altar fire, my
hand would come back. My body would be true to my faith even if
you could corrupt my mind. And all the time I should believe more
in Diana than my persecutors have ever believed in anything. Can
you understand that?

THE CAPTAIN (simply) Yes: I understand that. But my hand would
not come back. The hand that holds the sword has been trained not
to come back from anything but victory.

LAVINIA. Not even from death?

THE CAPTAIN. Least of all from death.

LAVINIA. Then I must not come back either. A woman has to be
braver than a soldier.

THE CAPTAIN. Prouder, you mean.

LAVINIA (startled) Prouder! You call our courage pride!

THE CAPTAIN. There is no such thing as courage: there is only
pride. You Christians are the proudest devils on earth.

LAVINIA (hurt) Pray God then my pride may never become a false
pride. (She turns away as if she did not wish to continue the
conversation, but softens and says to him with a smile) Thank you
for trying to save me from death

THE CAPTAIN. I knew it was no use; but one tries in spite of
one's knowledge.

LAVINIA. Something stirs, even in the iron breast of a Roman
soldier!

THE CAPTAIN. It will soon be iron again. I have seen many women
die, and forgotten them in a week.

LAVINIA. Remember me for a fortnight, handsome Captain. I shall
be watching you, perhaps.

THE CAPTAIN. From the skies? Do not deceive yourself, Lavinia.
There is no future for you beyond the grave.

LAVINIA. What does that matter? Do you think I am only running
away from the terrors of life into the comfort of heaven? If
there were no future, or if the future were one of torment, I
should have to go just the same. The hand of God is upon me.

THE CAPTAIN. Yes: when all is said, we are both patricians,
Lavinia, and must die for our beliefs. Farewell. (He offers her
his hand. She takes it and presses it. He walks away, trim and
calm. She looks after him for a moment, and cries a little as he
disappears through the eastern arch. A trumpet-call is heard from
the road through the western arch).

CENTURION (waking up and rising) Cohort of the tenth with
prisoners. Two file out with me to receive them. (He goes out
through the western arch, followed by four soldiers in two
files).

Lentulus and Metellus come into the square from the west side
with a little retinue of servants. Both are young courtiers,
dressed in the extremity of fashion. Lentulus is slender,
fair-haired, epicene. Metellus is manly, compactly built, olive
skinned, not a talker.

LENTULUS. Christians, by Jove! Let's chaff them.

METELLUS. Awful brutes. If you knew as much about them as I do
you wouldn't want to chaff them. Leave them to the lions.

LENTULUS (indicating Lavinia, who is still looking towards the
arches after the captain). That woman's got a figure. (He walks
past her, staring at her invitingly, but she is preoccupied and
is not conscious of him). Do you turn the other cheek when they
kiss you?

LAVINIA (starting) What?

LENTULus. Do you turn the other cheek when they kiss you,
fascinating Christian?

LAVINIA. Don't be foolish. (To Metellus, who has remained on her
right, so that she is between them) Please don't let your friend
behave like a cad before the soldiers. How are they to respect
and obey patricians if they see them behaving like street boys?
(Sharply to Lentulus) Pull yourself together, man. Hold your head
up. Keep the corners of your mouth firm; and treat me
respectfully. What do you take me for?

LENTULUS (irresolutely) Look here, you know: I--you--I--

LAVINIA. Stuff! Go about your business. (She turns decisively
away and sits down with her comrades, leaving him disconcerted).

METELLUS. You didn't get much out of that. I told you they were
brutes.

LENTULUS. Plucky little filly! I suppose she thinks I care. (With
an air of indifference he strolls with Metellus to the east side
of the square, where they stand watching the return of the
Centurion through the western arch with his men, escorting three
prisoners: Ferrovius, Androcles, and Spintho. Ferrovius is a
powerful, choleric man in the prime of life, with large nostrils,
staring eyes, and a thick neck: a man whose sensibilities are
keen and violent to the verge of madness. Spintho is a debauchee,
the wreck of a good-looking man gone hopelessly to the bad.
Androcles is overwhelmed with grief, and is restraining his tears
with great difficulty).

THE CENTURION (to Lavinia) Here are some pals for you. This
little bit is Ferrovius that you talk so much about. (Ferrovius
turns on him threateningly. The Centurion holds up his left
forefinger in admonition). Now remember that you're a Christian,
and that you've got to return good for evil. (Ferrovius controls
himself convulsively; moves away from temptation to the east side
near Lentulus; clasps his hands in silent prayer; and throws
himself on his knees). That's the way to manage them, eh! This
fine fellow (indicating Androcles, who comes to his left, and
makes Lavinia a heartbroken salutation) is a sorcerer. A Greek
tailor, he is. A real sorcerer, too: no mistake about it. The
tenth marches with a leopard at the head of the column. He made a
pet of the leopard; and now he's crying at being parted from it.
(Androcles sniffs lamentably). Ain't you, old chap? Well, cheer
up, we march with a Billy goat (Androcles brightens up) that's
killed two leopards and ate a turkey-cock. You can have him for a
pet if you like. (Androcles, quite consoled, goes past the
Centurion to Lavinia, and sits down contentedly on the ground on
her left). This dirty dog (collaring Spintho) is a real
Christian. He mobs the temples, he does (at each accusation he
gives the neck of Spintho's tunic a twist); he goes smashing
things mad drunk, he does; he steals the gold vessels, he does;
he assaults the priestesses, he does pah! (He flings Spintho into
the middle of the group of prisoners). You're the sort that makes
duty a pleasure, you are.

SPINTHO (gasping) That's it: strangle me. Kick me. Beat me.
Revile me. Our Lord was beaten and reviled. That's my way to
heaven. Every martyr goes to heaven, no matter what he's done.
That is so, isn't it, brother?

CENTURION. Well, if you're going to heaven, _I don't want to go
there. I wouldn't be seen with you.

LENTULUS. Haw! Good! (Indicating the kneeling Ferrovius). Is this
one of the turn-the-other-cheek gentlemen, Centurion?

CENTURION. Yes, sir. Lucky for you too, sir, if you want to take
any liberties with him.

LENTULUS (to Ferrovius) You turn the other cheek when you're
struck, I'm told.

FERROVIUS (slowly turning his great eyes on him) Yes, by the
grace of God, I do, NOW.

LENTULUS. Not that you're a coward, of course; but out of pure
piety.

FERROVIUS. I fear God more than man; at least I try to.

LENTULUS. Let's see. (He strikes him on the cheek. Androcles
makes a wild movement to rise and interfere; but Lavinia holds
him down, watching Ferrovius intently. Ferrovius, without
flinching, turns the other cheek. Lentulus, rather out of
countenance, titters foolishly, and strikes him again feebly).
You know, I should feel ashamed if I let myself be struck like
that, and took it lying down. But then I'm not a Christian: I'm a
man. (Ferrovius rises impressively and towers over him. Lentulus
becomes white with terror; and a shade of green flickers in his
cheek for a moment).

FERROVIUS (with the calm of a steam hammer) I have not always
been faithful. The first man who struck me as you have just
struck me was a stronger man than you: he hit me harder than I
expected. I was tempted and fell; and it was then that I first
tasted bitter shame. I never had a happy moment after that until
I had knelt and asked his forgiveness by his bedside in the
hospital. (Putting his hands on Lentulus's shoulders with
paternal weight). But now I have learnt to resist with a strength
that is not my own. I am not ashamed now, nor angry.

LENTULUS (uneasily) Er--good evening. (He tries to move away).

FERROVIUS (gripping his shoulders) Oh, do not harden your heart,
young man. Come: try for yourself whether our way is not better
than yours. I will now strike you on one cheek; and you will turn
the other and learn how much better you will feel than if you
gave way to the promptings of anger. (He holds him with one hand
and clenches the other fist).

LENTULUS. Centurion: I call on you to protect me.

CENTURION. You asked for it, sir. It's no business of ours.
You've had two whacks at him. Better pay him a trifle and square
it that way.

LENTULUS. Yes, of course. (To Ferrovius) It was only a bit of
fun, I assure you: I meant no harm. Here. (He proffers a gold
coin).

FERROVIUS (taking it and throwing it to the old beggar, who
snatches it up eagerly, and hobbles off to spend it) Give all
thou hast to the poor. Come, friend: courage! I may hurt your
body for a moment; but your soul will rejoice in the victory of
the spirit over the flesh. (He prepares to strike).

ANDROCLES. Easy, Ferrovius, easy: you broke the last man's jaw.

Lentulus, with a moan of terror, attempts to fly; but Ferrovius
holds him ruthlessly.

FERROVIUS. Yes; but I saved his soul. What matters a broken jaw?

LENTULUS. Don't touch me, do you hear? The law--

FERROVIUS. The law will throw me to the lions tomorrow: what
worse could it do were I to slay you? Pray for strength; and it
shall be given to you.

LENTULUS. Let me go. Your religion forbids you to strike me.

FERROVIUS. On the contrary, it commands me to strike you. How can
you turn the other cheek, if you are not first struck on the one
cheek?

LENTULUS (almost in tears) But I'm convinced already that what
you said is quite right. I apologize for striking you.

FERROVIUS (greatly pleased) My son: have I softened your heart?
Has the good seed fallen in a fruitful place? Are your feet
turning towards a better path?

LENTULUS (abjectly) Yes, yes. There's a great deal in what you
say.

FERROVIUS (radiant) Join us. Come to the lions. Come to suffering
and death.

LENTULUS (falling on his knees and bursting into tears) Oh, help
me. Mother! mother!

FERROVIUS. These tears will water your soul and make it bring
forth good fruit, my son. God has greatly blessed my efforts at
conversion. Shall I tell you a miracle--yes, a miracle--wrought
by me in Cappadocia? A young man--just such a one as you, with
golden hair like yours--scoffed at and struck me as you scoffed
at and struck me. I sat up all night with that youth wrestling
for his soul; and in the morning not only was he a Christian, but
his hair was as white as snow. (Lentulus falls in a dead faint).
There, there: take him away. The spirit has overwrought him, poor
lad. Carry him gently to his house; and leave the rest to heaven.

CENTURION. Take him home. (The servants, intimidated, hastily
carry him out. Metellus is about to follow when Ferrovius lays
his hand on his shoulder).

FERROVIUS. You are his friend, young man. You will see that he
is taken safely home.

METELLUS (with awestruck civility) Certainly, sir. I shall do
whatever you think best. Most happy to have made your
acquaintance, I'm sure. You may depend on me. Good evening, sir.

FERROVIUS (with unction) The blessing of heaven upon you and him.

Metellus follows Lentulus. The Centurion returns to his seat to
resume his interrupted nap. The deepest awe has settled on the
spectators. Ferrovius, with a long sigh of happiness, goes to
Lavinia, and offers her his hand.

LAVINIA (taking it) So that is how you convert people, Ferrovius.

FERROVIUS. Yes: there has been a blessing on my work in spite of
my unworthiness and my backslidings--all through my wicked,
devilish temper. This man--

ANDROCLES (hastily) Don't slap me on the back, brother. She knows
you mean me.

FERROVIUS. How I wish I were weak like our brother here! for then
I should perhaps be meek and gentle like him. And yet there seems
to be a special providence that makes my trials less than his. I
hear tales of the crowd scoffing and casting stones and reviling
the brethren; but when I come, all this stops: my influence calms
the passions of the mob: they listen to me in silence; and
infidels are often converted by a straight heart-to-heart talk
with me. Every day I feel happier, more confident. Every day
lightens the load of the great terror.

LAVINIA. The great terror? What is that?

Ferrovius shakes his head and does not answer. He sits down
beside her on her left, and buries his face in his hands in
gloomy meditation.

ANDROCLES. Well, you see, sister, he's never quite sure of
himself. Suppose at the last moment in the arena, with the
gladiators there to fight him, one of them was to say anything to
annoy him, he might forget himself and lay that gladiator out.

LAVINIA. That would be splendid.

FERROVIUS (springing up in horror) What!

ANDROCLES. Oh, sister!

FERROVIUS. Splendid to betray my master, like Peter! Splendid to
act like any common blackguard in the day of my proving! Woman:
you are no Christian. (He moves away from her to the middle of
the square, as if her neighborhood contaminated him).

LAVINIA (laughing) You know, Ferrovius, I am not always a
Christian. I don't think anybody is. There are moments when I
forget all about it, and something comes out quite naturally, as
it did then.

SPINTHO. What does it matter? If you die in the arena, you'll be
a martyr; and all martyrs go to heaven, no matter what they have
done. That's so, isn't it, Ferrovius?

FERROVIUS. Yes: that is so, if we are faithful to the end.

LAVINIA. I'm not so sure.

SPINTHO. Don't say that. That's blasphemy. Don't say that, I tell
you. We shall be saved, no matter WHAT we do.

LAVINIA. Perhaps you men will all go into heaven bravely and in
triumph, with your heads erect and golden trumpets sounding for
you. But I am sure I shall only be allowed to squeeze myself in
through a little crack in the gate after a great deal of begging.
I am not good always: I have moments only.

SPINTHO. You're talking nonsense, woman. I tell you, martyrdom
pays all scores.

ANDROCLES. Well, let us hope so, brother, for your sake. You've
had a gay time, haven't you? with your raids on the temples. I
can't help thinking that heaven will be very dull for a man of
your temperament. (Spintho snarls). Don't be angry: I say it only
to console you in case you should die in your bed tonight in the
natural way. There's a lot of plague about.

SPINTHO (rising and running about in abject terror) I never
thought of that. O Lord, spare me to be martyred. Oh, what a
thought to put into the mind of a brother! Oh, let me be martyred
today, now. I shall die in the night and go to hell. You're a
sorcerer: you've put death into my mind. Oh, curse you, curse
you! (He tries to seize Androcles by the throat).

FERROVIUS (holding him in a grip of iron) What's this, brother?
Anger! Violence! Raising your hand to a brother Christian!

SPINTHO. It's easy for you. You're strong. Your nerves are all
right. But I'm full of disease. (Ferrovius takes his hand from
him with instinctive disgust). I've drunk all my nerves away. I
shall have the horrors all night.

ANDROCLES (sympathetic) Oh, don't take on so, brother. We're all
sinners.

SPINTHO (snivelling, trying to feel consoled). Yes: I daresay if
the truth were known, you're all as bad as I am.

LAVINIA (contemptuously) Does THAT comfort you?

FERROVIUS (sternly) Pray, man, pray.

SPINTHO. What's the good of praying? If we're martyred we shall
go to heaven, shan't we, whether we pray or not?

FERROVIUS. What's that? Not pray! (Seizing him again) Pray this
instant, you dog, you rotten hound, you slimy snake, you beastly
goat, or--

SPINTHO. Yes: beat me: kick me. I forgive you: mind that.

FERROVIUS (spurning him with loathing) Yah! (Spintho reels away
and falls in front of Ferrovius).

ANDROCLES (reaching out and catching the skirt of Ferrovius's
tunic) Dear brother: if you wouldn't mind--just for my sake--

FERROVIUS. Well?

ANDROCLES. Don't call him by the names of the animals. We've no
right to. I've had such friends in dogs. A pet snake is the best
of company. I was nursed on goat's milk. Is it fair to them to
call the like of him a dog or a snake or a goat?

FERROVIUS. I only meant that they have no souls.

ANDROCLES (anxiously protesting) Oh, believe me, they have. Just
the same as you and me. I really don't think I could consent to
go to heaven if I thought there were to be no animals there.
Think of what they suffer here.

FERROVIUS. That's true. Yes: that is just. They will have their
share in heaven.

SPINTHO (who has picked himself up and is sneaking past Ferrovius
on his left, sneers derisively)!!

FERROVIUS (turning on him fiercely) What's that you say?

SPINTHO (cornering). Nothing.

FERROVIUS (clenching his fist) Do animals go to heaven or not?

SPINTHO. I never said they didn't.

FERROVIUS (implacable) Do they or do they not?

SPINTHO. They do: they do. (Scrambling out of Ferrovius's reach).
Oh, curse you for frightening me!

A bugle call is heard.

CENTURION (waking up) Tention! Form as before. Now then,
prisoners, up with you and trot along spry. (The soldiers fall
in. The Christians rise).

A man with an ox goad comes running through the central arch.

THE OX DRIVER. Here, you soldiers! clear out of the way for the
Emperor.

THE CENTURION. Emperor! Where's the Emperor? You ain't the
Emperor, are you?

THE OX DRIVER. It's the menagerie service. My team of oxen is
drawing the new lion to the Coliseum. You clear the road.

CENTURION. What! Go in after you in your dust, with half the town
at the heels of you and your lion! Not likely. We go first.

THE OX DRIVER. The menagerie service is the Emperor's personal
retinue. You clear out, I tell you.

CENTURION. You tell me, do you? Well, I'll tell you something. If
the lion is menagerie service, the lion's dinner is menagerie
service too. This (pointing to the Christians) is the lion's
dinner. So back with you to your bullocks double quick; and learn
your place. March. (The soldiers start). Now then, you
Christians, step out there.

LAVINIA (marching) Come along, the rest of the dinner. I shall be
the olives and anchovies.

ANOTHER CHRISTIAN (laughing) I shall be the soup.

ANOTHER. I shall be the fish.

ANOTHER. Ferrovius shall be the roast boar.

FERROVIUS (heavily) I see the joke. Yes, yes: I shall be the
roast boar. Ha! ha! (He laughs conscientiously and marches out
with them).

ANDROCLES. I shall be the mince pie. (Each announcement is
received with a louder laugh by all the rest as the joke catches
on).

CENTURION (scandalised) Silence! Have some sense of your
situation. Is this the way for martyrs to behave? (To Spintho,
who is quaking and loitering) I know what YOU'LL be at that
dinner. You'll be the emetic. (He shoves him rudely along).

SPINTHO. It's too dreadful: I'm not fit to die.

CENTURION. Fitter than you are to live, you swine.

They pass from the square westward. The oxen, drawing a waggon
with a great wooden cage and the lion in it, arrive through the
central arch.

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