Scene Twelve:

A Tree Grows in Byblos

As ISIS sleeps by the river, MAPS appear on wall above her: the the eastern Mediterranean, then Byblos; then the Discovery Area.

ANUBIS:

As Isis sleeps, someone else is about to find Osiris first. Soldiers from the army of Byblos--that's right, our neighbors now have armies, Set is active on our frontiers--have just seen something astonishing. King Melkarth wants to hear about the Unidentified Fragrant Object that's just appeared by the Western Sea.

 

Enter MELKARTH, his Captain END'AAN and other OFFICERS, and two SOLDIERS. They are by a tent, looking out over the seacoast just before dark changes to pre-dawn light.

MELKARTH:

Here? on the shore of the Western Sea? Tell me what you saw.

 ISIS awakes, cries out and runs to exit.

SOLDIER 1:

We patrol this beach every morning, your majesty.

MELKARTH:

What time until dawn?

END'AAN:

When this indigo light turns to aqua blue. Soon after that.

MELKARTH:

What is that fragrance? Ever see anything suspicious on this beach?

SOLDIER 1:

No, sir. A beautiful shell, a curious piece of wood, that's a big day for us.

MELKARTH: Fine. Now tell us what you saw.

SOLDIER 1:

Well, sir, yesterday morning we saw what we thought was just a big log, but when it got in closer we could see that it was a box shaped like a coffin. It had paint on it, like it had been decorated all over. It was rounded, like the contours of a man's body. We could see the head, the arms folded over the chest, the feet sticking up. It was just about to get to the beach, and we got within what? about ten paces of it? (Other SOLDIER nods) when the beach started shaking and rippling under us. It just threw us right off our feet.

MELKARTH:

(To OFFICERS:) Any earthquake reports? And what is that aroma?

END'AAN:

No earthquakes reported, sir. The aroma came with the box, sir.

MELKARTH:

What happened then?

SOLDIER 1:

Please do not kill us for lying, your Majesty, until you see it. (MELKARTH nods.) The shoot of a tree came out of the Earth from under the box, and then embraced it in leaves. It grew so fast. The leaves lifted the box up. Then a trunk shot up. It enclosed the box, and for a while you could make out the face and the feet. The trunk was over four cubits wide last night. The two of us couldn't reach all the way around it.

MELKARTH:

Well, what is the point of waiting 'til dawn? Let's get some torches and get over there. So all this, this alleged tree popping up so fast that seven lions couldn't encircle it has all happened since this morning? And that smell, since morning?

SOLDIER 1:

Yes, sir.

MELKARTH:

(To SOLDIER 2:) Soldier, do you have anything to add to this?

SOLDIER 2:

No, it's just the way he told it, sir.

MELKARTH:

You will come to no harm. End'aan, anything else?

END'AAN

When I was out with others at midnight, My Lord, three men could still join hands around it. You could still see the head and the feet sticking out. But the trunk keeps growing.

MELKARTH:

Have you placed a perimeter at least a day's walk around this thing?

 END'AAN:

Yes, sir. And instructed our ships to quarantine the area. (TORCHES arrive.)

MELKARTH:

That aroma. God is in the Garden again.

END'AAN:

It appears so, sir. Gratitude and praise!

MELKARTH:

Glory and joy! To grow that thick naturally, a tamarisk, even an erica tree that the Egyptians have, would have to grow for what? Two hundred years?

Exeunt. LIGHTS up on ERICA TREE, now massively present in the Space, with the Sea a few meters away. A KHU of a SWALLOW appears as a tiny point of light, grows bigger as it flies toward the TREE, then lets out a cry and vanishes. ISIS enters to the Have You Seen Osiris? MUSIC, embraces the TREE, releases her tears. When she hears others approaching, she flees to exit. Enter MELKARTH and his soldiers.

MELKARTH:

I wonder who that is? Someone seems to have gotten through our screen.

OFFICER 2 and SOLDIER 1 exeunt after ISIS. MELKARTH is amazed by the TREE.

 

 

MELKARTH:

Great Enlil! The aroma! Have you ever sensed anything like this? Call the Royal Engineers. When this tree stops growing, bring it to the palace. Get the priests to do their reckoning, and show you how to cut. Pack it in fleece. Yes?

(Enter OFFICER 2 and SOLDIER 1, exhausted.)

OFFICER 2:

I do not believe what we have just seen, sir.

 

What Did They See? You can Follow the Swallow and find out.

 

Or you can Choose from other Scenes

 

Or go to Stories of Thoth and Ma'at or the Playbill 

 

Copyright 2002 Dan Furst

 

 

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