Scene Fourteen:

No More Secrets!

What's Behind that Curtain?

 

 LIGHTS up in the new Royal Palace of Byblos, where a huge curtain masks a construction area from which work sounds can be heard. ASTARTE enters quickly, MELKARTH and their attendants following.

ASTARTE:

And not a moment too soon.

MELKARTH:

Please wait, my love.

ASTARTE:

No more, Melka. This secrecy has got to stop. I want to know what is in there, and what that fragrance is. I want to know now.

MELKARTH:

(To WORKMEN:) Are we ready?

WORKMAN:

(Within.) Almost!

ASTARTE:

There's no love in too much suspense.

 Two SERVANT Women have entered, excited, trying to catch the Queen's eye.

MELKARTH:

Please, my love, it is as I told you. I will hold a feast in your honor tonight, and what is in there is my gift to you. It is worth the wait.

ASTARTE nods and exhales, and MELKARTH goes within. ASTARTE beckons the SERVANTS, and they approach.

ASTARTE:

You look flown with something. What is it?

SERVANT 1:

My lady, we have just met in the garden the most wonderful woman. She is so beautiful and graceful and knows many arts. And the children love her.

SERVANT 2:

It's true. The children want to hug her, and they pull her arms down so they can speak to her, and ask her to kiss them.

ASTARTE:

Is she outside?

SERVANTS:

Yes.

ASTARTE:

Bring her here, please.

SERVANT 1:

(Exiting.) She knows herbs along the river that we haven't even found yet.

 SERVANTS exit, then re-enter with ISIS. She is still striking to look at, but now more simply dressed, more subtly fragrant.

ASTARTE:

(To SERVANTS:) You're excused from all other work today. You'll want to look your best for this evening. Maybe this lady can help you. (SERVANTS exit. To ISIS:) Please, come in. Sit down. Were you caught up in that great wave of people who all descended on us yesterday?

ISIS:

I was, your majesty. But I had no idea what everyone was so excited about. I only thought that in this great city, there must be some place to work.

ASTARTE:

Hyssop and rue? (ISIS smiles and nods, ASTARTE prepares the tea.) What's your name?

ISIS:

I'm Hathor, your Majesty. I was a temple servant in the Black Land.

ASTARTE:

My girls tell me you know where the herbs grow.

ISIS:

I've been picking herbs along the river since I was born, my lady.

ASTARTE:

And caring for children too? (To SERVANT:) Fashi!

ISIS:

I love children.

ASTARTE:

Do you have children of your own?

ISIS:

Not yet, my lady.

ASTARTE:

A woman as attractive as you? What do they use for eyes in the Black Land?

ISIS:

Men can be unobservant, my lady. (Both laugh. Enter FASHI.)

ASTARTE:

Please prepare a room for your new colleague Hathor. And tell the musicians to come. (FASHI exits. To ISIS:) You will at least stay the night with us? And come to tonight's feast? Then perhaps tomorrow you'll consider being my son's nurse and teacher. (Serves tea.)

ISIS:

I'm honored, my lady. Thank you.

ASTARTE:

Do you see anything interesting about this thing of such thrilling fragrance inside the curtain here, and you, a woman with an equally exciting aroma, arriving here on the same day?

ISIS:

No idea, my lady. I'm just happy that you can use me.

ASTARTE:

And what have we here?

MUSICIANS enter and set up. ISIS is surprised at their appearance. None recognize her.

 

ISIS:

Egyptian musicians?

ASTARTE:

We prefer the best. They say that travelling inside that giant circle some where was a woman whom they had to keep at a distance from the soldiers, because she was so beautiful.

ISIS: I heard something about that.

ASTARTE:

Perhaps she was even beautiful enough to divert attention from you.

ISIS:

 Oh, my lady.

ASTARTE:

 Who are you? Really?

ISIS:

 Hathor, my lady. Just a woman. I'm good at medicines and oils. And teas.

ASTARTE:

 Such as this one? Tell me about this one.

 MUSIC: Hyssop and Rue melody begins.

 

 

Want to hear what the Tea does? You can go to Hyssop and Rue

 

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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