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- Caesar and Cleopatra - 10/28 -


CAESAR. Very likely.

CLEOPATRA. But I should not like to ask him. Could you not persuade him to ask me--without knowing that I wanted him to?

CAESAR (touched by her innocence of the beautiful young man's character). My poor child!

CLEOPATRA. Why do you say that as if you were sorry for me? Does he love anyone else?

CAESAR. I am afraid so.

CLEOPATRA (tearfully). Then I shall not be his first love.

CAESAR. Not quite the first. He is greatly admired by women.

CLEOPATRA. I wish I could be the first. But if he loves me, I will make him kill all the rest. Tell me: is he still beautiful? Do his strong round arms shine in the sun like marble?

CAESAR. He is in excellent condition--considering how much he eats and drinks.

CLEOPATRA. Oh, you must not say common, earthly things about him; for I love him. He is a god.

CAESAR. He is a great captain of horsemen, and swifter of foot than any other Roman.

CLEOPATRA. What is his real name?

CAESAR (puzzled). His REAL name?

CLEOPATRA. Yes. I always call him Horus, because Horus is the most beautiful of our gods. But I want to know his real name.

CAESAR. His name is Mark Antony.

CLEOPATRA (musically). Mark Antony, Mark Antony, Mark Antony! What a beautiful name! (She throws her arms round Caesar's neck.) Oh, how I love you for sending him to help my father! Did you love my father very much?

CAESAR. No, my child; but your father, as you say, never worked. I always work. So when he lost his crown he had to promise me 16,000 talents to get it back for him.

CLEOPATRA. Did he ever pay you?

CAESAR. Not in full.

CLEOPATRA. He was quite right: it was too dear. The whole world is not worth 16,000 talents.

CAESAR. That is perhaps true, Cleopatra. Those Egyptians who work paid as much of it as he could drag from them. The rest is still due. But as I most likely shall not get it, I must go back to my work. So you must run away for a little and send my secretary to me.

CLEOPATRA (coaxing). No: I want to stay and hear you talk about Mark Antony.

CAESAR. But if I do not get to work, Pothinus and the rest of them will cut us off from the harbor; and then the way from Rome will be blocked.

CLEOPATRA. No matter: I don't want you to go back to Rome.

CAESAR. But you want Mark Antony to come from it.

CLEOPATRA (springing up). Oh yes, yes, yes: I forgot. Go quickly and work, Caesar; and keep the way over the sea open for my Mark Antony. (She runs out through the loggia, kissing her hand to Mark Antony across the sea.)

CAESAR (going briskly up the middle of the hall to the loggia steps). Ho, Britannus. (He is startled by the entry of a wounded Roman soldier, who confronts him from the upper step.) What now?

SOLDIER (pointing to his bandaged head). This, Caesar; and two of my comrades killed in the market place.

CAESAR (quiet but attending). Ay. Why?

SOLDIER. There is an army come to Alexandria, calling itself the Roman army.

CAESAR. The Roman army of occupation. Ay?

SOLDIER. Commanded by one Achillas.

CAESAR. Well?

SOLDIER. The citizens rose against us when the army entered the gates. I was with two others in the market place when the news came. They set upon us. I cut my way out; and here I am.

CAESAR. Good. I am glad to see you alive. (Rufio enters the loggia hastily, passing behind the soldier to look out through one of the arches at the quay beneath.) Rufio, we are besieged.

RUFIO. What! Already?

CAESAR. Now or tomorrow: what does it matter? We SHALL be besieged.

Britannus runs in.

BRITANNUS. Caesar--

CAESAR (anticipating him). Yes: I know. (Rufio and Britannus come down the hall from the loggia at opposite sides, past Caesar, who waits for a moment near the step to say to the soldier.) Comrade: give the word to turn out on the beach and stand by the boats. Get your wound attended to. Go. (The soldier hurries out. Caesar comes down the hall between Rufio and Britannus) Rufio: we have some ships in the west harbor. Burn them.

RUFIO (staring). Burn them!!

CAESAR. Take every boat we have in the east harbor, and seize the Pharos--that island with the lighthouse. Leave half our men behind to hold the beach and the quay outside this palace: that is the way home.

RUFIO (disapproving strongly). Are we to give up the city?

CAESAR. We have not got it, Rufio. This palace we have; and--what is that building next door?

RUFIO. The theatre.

CAESAR. We will have that too: it commands the strand, for the rest, Egypt for the Egyptians!

RUFIO. Well, you know best, I suppose. Is that all?

CAESAR. That is all. Are those ships burnt yet?

RUFIO. Be easy: I shall waste no more time. (He runs out.)

BRITANNUS. Caesar: Pothinus demands speech of you. It's my opinion he needs a lesson. His manner is most insolent.

CAESAR. Where is he?

BRITANNUS. He waits without.

CAESAR. Ho there! Admit Pothinus.

Pothinus appears in the loggia, and comes down the hall very haughtily to Caesar's left hand.

CAESAR. Well, Pothinus?

POTHINUS. I have brought you our ultimatum, Caesar.

CAESAR. Ultimatum! The door was open: you should have gone out through it before you declared war. You are my prisoner now. (He goes to the chair and loosens his toga.)

POTHINUS (scornfully). I YOUR prisoner! Do you know that you are in Alexandria, and that King Ptolemy, with an army outnumbering your little troop a hundred to one, is in possession of Alexandria?

CAESAR (unconcernedly taking off his toga and throwing it on the chair). Well, my friend, get out if you can. And tell your friends not to kill any more Romans in the market place. Otherwise my soldiers, who do not share my celebrated clemency, will probably kill you. Britannus: Pass the word to the guard; and fetch my armor. (Britannus runs out. Rufio returns.) Well?

RUFIO (pointing from the loggia to a cloud of smoke drifting over the harbor). See there! (Pothinus runs eagerly up the steps to look out.)

CAESAR. What, ablaze already! Impossible!

RUFIO. Yes, five good ships, and a barge laden with oil grappled to each. But it is not my doing: the Egyptians have saved me the trouble. They have captured the west harbor.

CAESAR (anxiously). And the east harbor? The lighthouse, Rufio?

RUFIO (with a sudden splutter of raging ill usage, coming down to Caesar and scolding him). Can I embark a legion in five minutes? The first cohort is already on the beach. We can do no more. If you want faster work, come and do it yourself?

CAESAR (soothing him). Good, good. Patience, Rufio, patience.

RUFIO. Patience! Who is impatient here, you or I? Would I be here, if I could not oversee them from that balcony?

CAESAR. Forgive me, Rufio; and (anxiously) hurry them as much


Caesar and Cleopatra - 10/28

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