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Full Online Book HomePlaysThe Road To Damascus: A Trilogy - Part 2 - Act 3 - Scene 2. Prison Cell
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The Road To Damascus: A Trilogy - Part 2 - Act 3 - Scene 2. Prison Cell Post by :matrixmarketer Category :Plays Author :August Strindberg Date :May 2012 Read :2289

Click below to download : The Road To Damascus: A Trilogy - Part 2 - Act 3 - Scene 2. Prison Cell (Format : PDF)

The Road To Damascus: A Trilogy - Part 2 - Act 3 - Scene 2. Prison Cell

PART II ACT III SCENE II. PRISON CELL

(On the right a door; and above it a barred opening, through which a ray of sunlight is shining, throwing a patch of light on the left-hand wall, where a large crucifix hangs.)

(The STRANGER, dressed in a brown cloak and wearing a hat, is sitting at the table looking at the patch of sunlight. The door is opened and the BEGGAR is let in.)

BEGGAR. What are you brooding over?

STRANGER. I'm asking myself why I'm here; and then: where I was yesterday?

BEGGAR. Where do you think?

STRANGER. It seems in hell; unless I dreamed everything.

BEGGAR. Then wake up now, for this is going to be reality.

STRANGER. Let it come. I'm only afraid of ghosts.

BEGGAR (taking out a newspaper). Firstly, the great authority has withdrawn the certificate he gave you for making gold. He says, in this paper, that you deceived him. The result is that the paper calls you a charlatan!

STRANGER. O God! What is it I'm fighting?

BEGGAR. Difficulties, like other men.

STRANGER. No, this is something else....

BEGGAR. Your own credulity, then.

STRANGER. No, I'm not credulous, and I know I'm right.

BEGGAR. What's the good of that, if no one else does.

STRANGER. Shall I ever get out of this prison? If I do, I'll settle everything.

BEGGAR. The matter's arranged; everything's paid for.

STRANGER. Oh? Who paid, then?

BEGGAR. The Society, I suppose; or the Drunkard's Government.

STRANGER. Then I can go?

BEGGAR. Yes. But there's one thing....

STRANGER. Well, what is it?

BEGGAR. Remember, an enlightened man of the world mustn't let himself be taken by surprise.

STRANGER. I begin to divine....

BEGGAR. The announcement's on the front page.

STRANGER. That means: she's already married again, and my children have a stepfather. Who is he?

BEGGAR. Whoever he is, don't murder him; for he's not to blame for taking in a forsaken woman.

STRANGER. My children! O God, my children!

BEGGAR. I notice you didn't foresee what's happened; but why not look ahead, if you're so old and such an enlightened man of the world.

STRANGER (beside himself). O God! My children!

BEGGAR. Enlightened men of the world don't weep! Stop it, my son. When such disasters happen men of the world... either... well, tell me....

STRANGER. Shoot themselves!

BEGGAR. Or?

STRANGER. No, not that!

BEGGAR. Yes, my son, precisely that! He's throwing out a sheet-anchor as an experiment.

STRANGER. This is irrevocable. Irrevocable!

BEGGAR. Yes, it is. Quite irrevocable. And you can live another lifetime, in order to contemplate your own rascality in peace.

STRANGER. You should be ashamed to talk like that.

BEGGAR. And you?

STRANGER. Have you ever seen a human destiny like mine?

BEGGAR. Well, look at mine!

STRANGER. I know nothing of yours.

BEGGAR. It's never occurred to you, in all our long acquaintance, to ask about my affairs. You once scorned the friendship I offered you, and fell straightway into the arms of boon companions. I hope it'll do you good. And so farewell, till the next time.

STRANGER. Don't go.

BEGGAR. Perhaps you'd like company when you get out of prison?

STRANGER. Why not?

BEGGAR. It hasn't occurred to you I mightn't want to show myself in _your company?

STRANGER. It certainly hasn't.

BEGGAR. But it's true. Do you think I want to be suspected of having been at that immortal banquet in the alchemist's honour, of which there's an account in the morning paper?

STRANGER. He doesn't want to be seen with me!

BEGGAR. Even a beggar has his pride and fears ridicule.

STRANGER. He doesn't want to be seen with me. Am I then sunk to such misery?

BEGGAR. You must ask yourself that, and answer it, too.

(A mournful cradle song is heard in the distance.)

STRANGER. What's that?

BEGGAR. A song sung by a mother at her baby's cradle.

STRANGER. Why must I be reminded of it just now?

BEGGAR. Probably so that you can feel really keenly what you've left for a chimera.

STRANGER. Is it possible I could have been wrong? If so it's the devil's work, and I'll lay down my arms.

BEGGAR. You'd better do that as soon as you can....

STRANGER. Not yet! (A rosary can be heard being repeated in the distance.) What's that? (A sustained note of a horn is heard.) That's the unknown huntsman! (The chord from the Dead March is heard.) Where am I? (He remains where he is as if hypnotised.)

BEGGAR. Bow yourself or break!

STRANGER. I cannot bow!

BEGGAR. Then break.

(The STRANGER falls to the ground. The same confused medley of scenes as before.)

(Curtain.)

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