Let's Make a Deal:

What the Harpist Said

 

ISIS beside the desert road as before, talking with the blind harpist AGIR, with SOLDIERS in the distance pulling the TREE toward Byblos.

 AGIR:

Lady, what the Army asks of you, and please pardon me if this sounds ridiculous, is -- will you please walk far enough away from the Army, and far enough downwind, that the soldiers will not be so inflamed from looking at you and oh! smelling you?

ISIS:

What? (Both Laugh.)

AGIR:

That's their message, my lady.

ISIS:

I am not a lady, sir. Only a servant.

AGIR:

As you wish.

ISIS:

Is this really true, that these men all find me so desirable? I am happily astounded. The men of this country must get everywhere with women.

AGIR: We do what we can in a dry country. I will keep your secret. You're traveling toward the palace of King Melkarth and Queen Astarte. You're a servant with knowledge of birthing, herbs and ah, undoubtedly, fragrances. You can succeed as long as the Queen is not ugly, so you have come to the best place.

ISIS:

I wouldn't know.

AGIR:

Royal Lady of Egypt, I will do what I can to assist you. Your cover is safe with me. I'd be happy to escort you, unless, that is, you'd like to fly. I haven't heard the swallow for hours.

ISIS: Thank you, sir. What is your name?

AGIR:

Agir, madam.

ISIS: I appreciate your discretion, Agir. What will you tell the King?

 

AGIR:

A servant woman is, ah, looking for work, and she has, I believe, skills that are highly prized by your majesties. That should do it, correct?

ISIS:

All blessings flow to you. (Pause.) Why should you help me?

AGIR:

You're a carrier of beauty, so you need help and protection. And . . . you are alarming to these people. It's delightful. I can't see how they're dressed, but from the sound of their walking, I think someone has invented a kind of metal skirt?

ISIS:

It is true.

AGIR:

Then there you are. If I have a choice between a skirt of linen and a skirt of tin, let's unload the linen right here, please. Can you imagine inventing a metal skirt? Are we agreed, and it is time to be the swallow now?

ISIS embraces AGIR and exits, and the SWALLOW KHU appears. Have You See Osiris? MUSIC modulates into a work song as the SOLDIERS pull the TREE on toward the Royal palace. AGIR crosses back toward END'AAN, and they both look up at the SWALLOW.

END'AAN:

What did she say?

AGIR:

She's sorry that she's made your work more difficult. She says she had no idea anyone would find her so exciting to look at.

END'AAN:

Not to be believed. Did she say who she is?

AGIR:

No.

END'AAN:

And of course, she's never heard of the Swallow who's been flying over -- and here she is. (Waves. To SWALLOW:) Nice to see you again. (To AGIR:) Now we have a trio act. The Old Woman, the Swallow, and the Beauty.

AGIR:

I believe we will not see the Old Woman again for a while. The Beauty is back. She's completely innocent of her power, sir. She has no idea how exciting she is.

END'AAN:

Thank you, Agir. (To SOLDIERS:) Give this man all comfort. (AGIR exits. To OFFICERS:) Draw up a daily route map showing every landmark on the road ahead, and spread the word that the first man to spot the caves wins a prize, and the hill that looks like a tortoise, another prize, and whatever else you find. Make it exciting. Anything to keep their eyes fixed ahead. Special rations for every day we cover more ground than we did the day before.

OFFICER :

Permission to ask a question, sir?

END'AAN:

Go.

OFFICER :

Wouldn't it be simpler to send her ahead in a chariot, and rest here for a day?

END'AAN:

Sure it would. But she's not going to leave the Tree. Wherever a woman or a bird can see the Tree from, that's where she'll be. The best we can do is keep her downwind. Let's go.

 Drum beats and shouts quicken as the column accelerates, and pulls the TREE out. Exeunt.

 

 

Want to hear the The Neter News: The Famous Magic Tree Hits Byblos!?

 

Or you can Jump to the Palace, where the Queen wants No More Secrets!

 

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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