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Andromache, a play in three acts online

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kingdom.

ORESTES.
We are exiles for ever, both !

HERMIONE.

Nay, if you love me I can bear anything ; if any
one will love me.



ANDROMACHE 93

ORESTES.

I know not if I love or hate you. It was for your
passing beauty I came, because your eyes beaconed
me through the dark of the sea.

HERMIONE.
Oh, take me ; that is all the love I want.

ORESTES.

Like those two stars that men call Helen's brethren,
immortal, never fading

HERMIONE.

Oh, I am fading fast, but, perchance, if the spell
were off me

ORESTES.

Nay, you shall never fade. There is a blue sunlit
island, waterless, desolate Hear me, daughter of
Helen, ageless and deathless !

HERMIONE.
I hear.

ORESTES.

Some sunset when you are beautiful like a dream
I will set you on that bright island, and fill my eyes
full. And then I will go my ways alone, and the
fairest of earthly things shall be mine for ever.



94 ANDROMACHE

HERMIONE.
What do you mean ?

ORESTES.

No man shall ever see you fade from your love-
liness. The gods may take you even as they took
Helen.

ANDROMACHE.

Oh, he is mad ! Queen, Queen, go back while
there is time.

HERMIONE.
(Shrinking back.) I should die. I am afraid.

ORESTES.

i Die? Of that I know not. Only never, never
fade ; perfect for ever without age or waning !
Daughter of Helen, will you come with me ?

\A sound of arms outside. They start.

HERMIONE.

Oh, quick ! I am yours. Do with me what you
will.

ORESTES.
Come. (Sound again.] What is that ?

VOICE OF PYRRHUS.

Andromache ! Snake of Phrygia !

[ORESTES stands in posture of defence. HERMIONE
shrinks back.



ANDROMACHE 95

ANDROMACHE.

(To MOLOSSUS.) Cling fast ! (Rushing from the altar
towards PYRRHUS.) Back, my king ! Keep back !

HERMIONE.

(To ORESTES, with a cry.} Now, now !

[Hides her face.

MOLOSSUS.
(Waking up slowly.} Is that father coming ?

PYRRHUS.

(Entering and grasping ANDROMACHE by the wrists.}
Your plotters are all fled. Now for you !

ANDROMACHE.
There is an ambush ! Keep back !

PYRRHUS.
(Looking up.} More treachery !

ORESTES.

Why is the son of Achilles away from the battle ?

PYRRHUS.

You, Pirate ? . . . Because your men fled so fast.
My servants have chased them twenty furlongs from
here. Yield !



96 ANDROMACHE

ORESTES.

(Loud.} No man shoot nor stir ! (As before."] Your
servants may be twenty furlongs from here ; my men
are in these thickets to right and left. What sought
you here ?

PYRRHUS.

I sought to slay this woman. Now I need more.

[He poises his spear. ANDROMACHE slips back
to MOLOSSUS at the altar.



ORESTES.

(Not raising his spear.} Nay, it was I that should
have slain Andromache. Go your ways ! I only take
back my own bride.

[Pointing to HERMIONE, whom PYRRHUS now
sees for the first time.

PYRRHUS.

It is Orestes ! But the queen vowed And

that oath ! Oh, perjured ! perjured !

HERMIONE.

(To the rocks and thickets.} O ye in the ambush,
strike him down ! Strike him down ! . . . Oh, what
is that rushing on the wind ?

[Puts her hands over her ears as though in
terror.



ANDROMACHE 97

ORESTES.

The oath is fulfilled upon her.

ANDROMACHE.

(Close to PYRRHUS.) My lord, my lord, wait and let
him speak. It is he that asks you, so there is no
dishonour. (He glares at her.} Slay me after if I have
done wrong. And his men are crowding behind
these bushes and rocks.

PYRRHUS.

(In a war chant.} The wolves set an ambush, set an
ambush for the lion ; and the lion feasted for many
days ! Ho, Myrmidons !

ORESTES.

They hear you not. Go back !

[He grasps his spear for defence ; PYRRHUS
draws his sword and starts forward.

VOICE.

(From behind the rocks.} Now, men of Mycenae !

[A shower of arrows strikes PYRRHUS.

ANDROMACHE.

It is a murder, a coward's murder !

[PYRRHUS staggers to the altar and falls.
ANDROMACHE bends over, tending him.
MOLOSSUS, with a cry y snatches PYRRHUS'
word and flies at ORESTES, who disarms
him at a blow.

G



98 ANDROMACHE

ORESTES.
Hold the boy ! Hurt him not !

HERMIONE.

(In a stupefied tone.} His blood is running down the
steps of the altar.

PYRRHUS.

Where is Molossus ? Boy, if you leave these dogs
unpunished

ANDROMACHE.

Nay, curse him not ! Oh, my lord, if you have
ever loved him, curse him not ! Let him be free ;
he will do all that is well.

PYRRHUS.

(Faintly.} Andromache ? ... So be it. It is the
same in the end. I am glad I did not slay you,
Andromache. [Dies.

HERMIONE.

(As before.} His blood is trickling into the mark of
the footprint of Thetis. (In terror.} Ah, drag him
away, or it will be a curse upon us ! He must not
die at the altar.

ORESTES.

(Also in fear.} I never slew him. I will not touch
a man dying at an altar. . . . Andromache, touch
him not ; he will haunt you.



ANDROMACHE 99

HERMIONE.

She is not afraid of the haunting of the dead. See,
she is whispering in his ear. She is doing witchwork
to bring him back. (Crossing to ANDROMACHE, who
is still bending over PYRRHUS' body, and kneeling to her.)
Nay, in the goddess's name, Andromache, do not
wake him ! I have wronged you much, but I will
make amends ; I will set you free. He would never
have done that. Only, do not whisper to him ! Do
not call him back to haunt me !

ANDROMACHE.

Hold your peace, traitor and coward ! If I could
bring him back, think you I would stay my voice for
you ?

HERMIONE.

O God ! And the noise on the wind is nearer and
nearer.

ORESTES.

(To HERMIONE.) You did not slay him. Even if
he does wake, he will only haunt them that slew him.

HERMIONE.

He saw them not ; he knows them not. He has
only seen you and me. (Rapidly.) Oh, in God's
name, it is too much ! The sound of Their wings
is all about me, and if I dared look, I know I should
see Their faces. It is more than one woman can
bear. If he wakes I shall go mad.



ioo ANDROMACHE



ORESTES.

It is done now. We will fly in the ship quickly ;
he will never follow us over the seas.



HERMIONE.

She will show him the way. Oh, she will have no
pity ! I have sought so long to slay her. She would
not spare me now for all the treasures of Egypt. I
knew well I should have no peace till I saw her
dead. Oh, woman, woman ! bend not over him ;
whisper to him no more !

ANDROMACHE.

I will whisper no more ; I will cry aloud in dead
ears, as I have cried all my life ! (To PYRRHUS.) O
thou who hearest me not, who hast never heard me,
I call again to thee, let there at last be peace ! If
thou hast found thy sleep, oh, cling to it ! Never
wake nor stir to follow these who murdered thee !

HERMIONE.

What does she mean ? It is all magic. She means
that he is to follow us.

ANDROMACHE.

The living have never heard me, and the dead
cannot hear ; but broken and dying men know the
words that I speak. Remember the one moment
before utter death, when thine ears were opened to



ANDROMACHE 101

hear and thine eyes to see. Remember that, and
forget the long waste of days !

HERMIONE.

She bids him remember. He will awake. I can
feel that he will wake and follow us.

ANDROMACHE.

By the bitter hate wherewith once I hated thee ;
by the blood in the streets of Troy and the death-cry
of Hector's child ; by the love wherewith I have loved
thee in spite of all (the body moves) and love thee
still

HERMIONE.

(IVith a shriek.) O God ! He is waking ! (Grovel-
ling in terror and hiding her eyes.} Oh, smite off his
feet that he shall not pursue, and his hands that he
may never lay hold of me !

ANDROMACHE.

Before thy soul is fled far away, hearken to me
and put away thine hatred.

HERMIONE.
(As before.} Smite off his hands and his feet !

ORESTES.

She is not crying him to waken. She is bidding
him rest in peace and not harm us.



102 ANDROMACHE

HERMIONE.

It cannot be that ; it cannot. I have hated her
too sore. It is all witchwork or else madness.

[She looks up and sees the sword ; suddenly dutches
it and moves towards ANDROMACHE.

ANDROMACHE.

And afterward go and seek Hector, and he will
tell thee more, for he was wiser and greater than
other men. And some day this woman, too, will be
broken and dying ; and then she will see what thou
and I have seen, and will know what mercy is.
(HERMIONE stabs her.} Ah !

[ANDROMACHE falls over the body of PYRRHUS.
ORESTES starts forward and grasps HER-
MIONE.

ORESTES.

(To the men holding MOLOSSUS.) Hold this wild
beast ! Let the boy free.

[ORESTES and MOLOSSUS bend together over the
body of ANDROMACHE. The men-at-arms
seize HERMIONE.

MOLOSSUS.
Mother, speak ! Is she dead ?

ORESTES.
No, but there is death in her face.

MOLOSSUS.
Mother, mother, speak !



ANDROMACHE 103

ORESTES.

(Standing up.} We know what she would say

Young King of Phthia, I never sought to slay your
father ; and for this woman, I would give all my
wealth to have her alive again. But I will make
atonement : take all my gold (takes off his chain,
and throws it at MOLOSSUS' feet. MOLOSSUS stands
silent) and this dagger likewise. There is a bright
stone in the hilt that keeps off the venom of snakes.
(MoLossus is still silent.} And my cloak was woven
by women of Sidon. [Throws down the cloak.

MOLOSSUS.

(In a struggling sullen voice.} It was not you that
slew her.

ORESTES.

Is it the woman ? There is your sword. (Picks
it up and gives it him. To the men holding HERMIONE.)
Hold back her arms, men, that the King may slay her
as he will.

[The men bring forward HERMIONE, dazed
and stupefied ; they hold her so that either
breast or throat may receive the sword.

MOLOSSUS.

Oh, take her away, or I will verily slay her ! Let
her never set foot upon this land again.

ORESTES.

Begone with her to the ship !

[The men move off with her.



104 ANDROMACHE

HERMIONE.

(Suddenly struggling.) I will not go. Let me free !
I will stay and he shall slay me ! I will not go.

[The men drag her off.

ORESTES.

And for mine own atonement . . . (He looks
round.) Men, get you gone ! If you would have
more, here is my sword ; and here is my shield, and
my helmet. (He lays the arms one by one at MOLOSSUS'
feet.} My men are all gone. The rest is for you to
take.

MOLOSSUS.

(Looking at ANDROMACHE.) I will take no more. I
will have peace.

[Kneels down y bending over the body.

ORESTES.
Peace let it be !

ANDROMACHE.
(Half raising herself.) Hector! Hector!



THE END.



Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & Co.
at Paul's Work, Edinburgh



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Online LibraryGilbert MurrayAndromache, a play in three acts → online text (page 4 of 4)