أنت هنا

قراءة كتاب Androcles and the Lion

تنويه: تعرض هنا نبذة من اول ١٠ صفحات فقط من الكتاب الالكتروني، لقراءة الكتاب كاملا اضغط على الزر “اشتر الآن"

‏اللغة: English
Androcles and the Lion

Androcles and the Lion

لا توجد اصوات
دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 7

class="dialog">THE EDITOR (contemptuously) You thought! Who cares what you think? YOU'LL be killed all right enough.

SPINTHO (groans and again hides his face)!!! Then is nobody ever killed except us poor—

LAVINIA. Christians?

THE EDITOR. If the vestal virgins turn down their thumbs, that's another matter. They're ladies of rank.

LAVINIA. Does the Emperor ever interfere?

THE EDITOR. Oh, yes: he turns his thumbs up fast enough if the vestal virgins want to have one of his pet fighting men killed.

ANDROCLES. But don't they ever just only pretend to kill one another? Why shouldn't you pretend to die, and get dragged out as if you were dead; and then get up and go home, like an actor?

THE EDITOR. See here: you want to know too much. There will be no pretending about the new lion: let that be enough for you. He's hungry.

SPINTHO (groaning with horror) Oh, Lord! Can't you stop talking about it? Isn't it bad enough for us without that?

ANDROCLES. I'm glad he's hungry. Not that I want him to suffer, poor chap! but then he'll enjoy eating me so much more. There's a cheerful side to everything.

THE EDITOR (rising and striding over to Androcles) Here: don't you be obstinate. Come with me and drop the pinch of incense on the altar. That's all you need do to be let off.

ANDROCLES. No: thank you very much indeed; but I really mustn't.

THE EDITOR. What! Not to save your life?

ANDROCLES. I'd rather not. I couldn't sacrifice to Diana: she's a huntress, you know, and kills things.

THE EDITOR. That don't matter. You can choose your own altar. Sacrifice to Jupiter: he likes animals: he turns himself into an animal when he goes off duty.

ANDROCLES. No: it's very kind of you; but I feel I can't save myself that way.

THE EDITOR. But I don't ask you to do it to save yourself: I ask you to do it to oblige me personally.

ANDROCLES (scrambling up in the greatest agitation) Oh, please don't say that. That is dreadful. You mean so kindly by me that it seems quite horrible to disoblige you. If you could arrange for me to sacrifice when there's nobody looking, I shouldn't mind. But I must go into the arena with the rest. My honor, you know.

THE EDITOR. Honor! The honor of a tailor?

ANDROCLES (apologetically) Well, perhaps honor is too strong an expression. Still, you know, I couldn't allow the tailors to get a bad name through me.

THE EDITOR. How much will you remember of all that when you smell the beast's breath and see his jaws opening to tear out your throat?

SPINTHO (rising with a yell of terror) I can't bear it. Where's the altar? I'll sacrifice.

FERROVIUS. Dog of an apostate. Iscariot!

SPINTHO. I'll repent afterwards. I fully mean to die in the arena I'll die a martyr and go to heaven; but not this time, not now, not until my nerves are better. Besides, I'm too young: I want to have just one more good time. (The gladiators laugh at him). Oh, will no one tell me where the altar is? (He dashes into the passage and vanishes).

ANDROCLES (to the Editor, pointing after Spintho) Brother: I can't do that, not even to oblige you. Don't ask me.

THE EDITOR. Well, if you're determined to die, I can't help you. But I wouldn't be put off by a swine like that.

FERROVIUS. Peace, peace: tempt him not. Get thee behind him, Satan.

THE EDITOR (flushing with rage) For two pins I'd take a turn in the arena myself to-day, and pay you out for daring to talk to me like that.

Ferrovius springs forward.

LAVINIA (rising quickly and interposing) Brother, brother: you forget.

FERROVIUS (curbing himself by a mighty effort) Oh, my temper, my wicked temper! (To the Editor, as Lavinia sits down again, reassured). Forgive me, brother. My heart was full of wrath: I should have been thinking of your dear precious soul.

THE EDITOR. Yah! (He turns his back on Ferrovius contemptuously, and goes back to his seat).

FERROVIUS (continuing) And I forgot it all: I thought of nothing but offering to fight you with one hand tied behind me.

THE EDITOR (turning pugnaciously) What!

FERROVIUS (on the border line between zeal and ferocity) Oh, don't give way to pride and wrath, brother. I could do it so easily. I could—

They are separated by the Menagerie Keeper, who rushes in from the passage, furious.

THE KEEPER. Here's a nice business! Who let that Christian out of here down to the dens when we were changing the lion into the cage next the arena?

THE EDITOR. Nobody let him. He let himself.

THE KEEPER. Well, the lion's ate him.

Consternation. The Christians rise, greatly agitated. The gladiators sit callously, but are highly amused. All speak or cry out or laugh at once. Tumult.

LAVINIA. Oh, poor wretch! FERROVIUS. The apostate has perished. Praise be to God's justice! ANDROCLES. The poor beast was starving. It couldn't help itself. THE CHRISTIANS. What! Ate him! How frightful! How terrible! Without a moment to repent! God be merciful to him, a sinner! Oh, I can't bear to think of it! In the midst of his sin! Horrible, horrible! THE EDITOR. Serve the rotter right! THE GLADIATORS. Just walked into it, he did. He's martyred all right enough. Good old lion! Old Jock doesn't like that: look at his face. Devil a better! The Emperor will laugh when he hears of it. I can't help smiling. Ha ha ha!!!!!

THE KEEPER. Now his appetite's taken off, he won't as much as look at another Christian for a week.

ANDROCLES. Couldn't you have saved him brother?

THE KEEPER. Saved him! Saved him from a lion that I'd just got mad with hunger! a wild one that came out of the forest not four weeks ago! He bolted him before you could say Balbus.

LAVINIA (sitting down again) Poor Spintho! And it won't even count as martyrdom!

THE KEEPER. Serve him right! What call had he to walk down the throat of one of my lions before he was asked?

ANDROCLES. Perhaps the lion won't eat me now.

THE KEEPER. Yes: that's just like a Christian: think only of yourself! What am I to do? What am I to say to the Emperor when he sees one of my lions coming into the arena half asleep?

THE EDITOR. Say nothing. Give your old lion some bitters and a morsel of fried fish to wake up his appetite. (Laughter).

THE KEEPER. Yes: it's easy for you to talk; but—

THE EDITOR (scrambling to his feet) Sh! Attention there! The Emperor. (The Keeper bolts precipitately into the passage. The gladiators rise smartly and form into line).

The Emperor enters on the Christians' side, conversing with Metellus, and followed by his suite.

THE GLADIATORS. Hail, Caesar! those about to die salute thee.

CAESAR. Good morrow, friends.

Metellus shakes hands with the Editor, who accepts his condescension with bluff respect.

LAVINIA. Blessing, Caesar, and forgiveness!

CAESAR (turning in some surprise at the salutation) There is no forgiveness for Christianity.

LAVINIA. I did not mean that, Caesar. I mean that WE forgive YOU.

METELLUS. An inconceivable liberty! Do you not know, woman, that the Emperor can do no wrong and therefore cannot be