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RP6 03v

We are the rich and famous bandits
Of the cavern,
The terror of gentlemen
Possessing the gold of their ancestors.
 
With wisdom and courage,
We can silently handle
The sword and the lance,
When midnight comes.
 
(They repeat the two stanzas.)
(At the end, they add:) .
Ah! Here we are!
 
[1st voice:]
Profiting from the shadowy night,
We valiant friends do fight.
 
[2nd voice:]
Tomorrow we will rest in the shadows
And sleep away the whole day.
 
[Both voices:]
Let us put our youth to use
In building up a treasure,
So that in our old age
We'll be able to swim in gold.
 
(The first two stanzas again.)
 
ABRAMIN
throws rich objects at the feet of his wife, mainly children clothes and toys, then he sits down beside her and says:

Well, then! Are you pleased, Susanna? Dismas will be dressed like a prince and you won't have to go to any trouble to amuse him. (Susanna looks at the things with a sad expression.) You don't look satisfied! It's just too much! If I'd known, I wouldn't have come away all these trinkets.

SUSANNA

How can you ask me to rejoice, while Dismas is sick? Cure my child and you will see me smile.

ABRAMIN

I have done what I could: how many times have I taken Dismas to Jerusalem to have him cared for by the most skillful doctors? AH their remedies have been useless; so leave me in peace and don't talk to me of a sickness that causes me as much despair as it does you... (He leaps to his feet and leans over the cradle.) Must I have a leprous son!... Ah! I who based such hopes on him!...

TORCOL, sneering.

There's no reason to upset yourself, don't you have good helpers? Izarn and I both know how to give you a hand without your son's interfering. If you don't recognize the ser­vices we render you in your crimes, it's pure ingratitude.

 

IZARN, palling his companion on the shoulder.

Comrade, don't be in a bad mood, the chief isn't saying
 
 

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RP6 04r

anything against us. I. too, am sorry that Dismas is leprous; he's well-formed otherwise. I'm sure there's not another who'd have been his equal at scaling walls or cracking locks, and above ill at using his sword to get obedience from the rebellious.

ABRAMIN 

Shut up, you peasants, my son is none of your business. I forbid you to speak insultingly of him, to his mother's grief.

SUSANNA

Abramin, how is it that you, who understand my sorrow, have brought' tears to so many poor mothers? You haven't gotten away with all these things without shedding blood. I here was a time I would have smiled at hearing of your trans­gressions, but. now that I suffer myself. I can't take pleasure in lie sufferings of others.

ABRAMIN

It's a lucky thing you didn't come into the town of Bethlehem today, your heart would have been stirred with compassion; even my own, hardened as it is, trembled with indignation to witness such barbarity, for I don't spill blood except to defend my life.Those who are willing to sleep peacefully while I loot their -offers have nothing to fear from me. I am the most peaceable of men and my sword has never wounded an innocent.

TORCOL, in a lively tone.

Except for me, that day, or night rather, when you \hacked me on the shoulder because I wasn't getting away fast enough from a turret where I'd found a hoard of treasure. There, you who call yourself the most peaceable of men, I re­gret ever putting my white hair at your service, since you hardly respect it.

ABRAMIN, sarcastically.

This blow of my sword was well deserved. I'm quite ready to do the same again if you fail to obey me at the first command. I could care less about your white wig; I didn't know -° that you had put it at my service. You can keep it for your own, since I have no use for it. my superb head of black hair, which gives me some resemblance to the Olympian gods, is quite enough for me. As for yours, which looks like a little girl's, it's no good for anything but to be thrown into the fire.

TORCOL, in a rage.

This is too much. I am going to avenge myself for this insult.

He reaches out to a pile of empty bottles, picks up one of them, and starts to throw it at the chiefs head. Izarn rushes to defend him.

ABRAMIN grabbing Torcol's arm hard.  

  

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RP6 04v

 Move if you can!....

Torcol cries out and struggles while Izarn takes the bottle from his hand.
SUSANNA hurries to the cradle.
 
Please, be quiet. You woke up Dismas. (She takes him in her arms.)
IZARN, to Torcol.
 
Torcol, you're wrong to rebel against the chief. He's a brave fellow who's heaped goods on you. Consider this: it's to him that we owe these rich costumes that might cause us to be taken for descendants of King Solomon; it's also to him that we owe all these bottles that have had us bending our elbows so often. .And you, in a fit of ingratitude, you'd use one of them to avenge yourself against the author of our good fortune.
 
TORCOL
 
Keep your sermons to yourself and leave me be. I know perfectly well what I have to do. I agree to forego vengeance, but it's through greatness of soul, not through force.
 
He goes and sits down with ham in a corner of the cave where they both begin to smoke their pipes.
 
ABRAMIN, going to Susanna.
 
You don't know how to get my son to sleep. Give him to me; I'm going to chant a little song for him that will make him dream of glory and braver.
 
He takes the child and, walking jerkily, he sings:
Immortal glory
Of our ancestors
Be faithful to us
And we'll live like them.
Enflame our hearts. (2x. repeated)
 
Returning Dismas to his mother, ABRAMIN says:
See. He's asleep already. I recognize in him a brave man worthy of me. How sad that Dismas is a leper!!!... (He strikes his head with his fist.)
SUSANNA
 
Don't think about it anymore; you just now forbade me to talk to you about it.   

 

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RP6 05r

Tell me, instead, what happened in Bethlehem today. 
 
ABRAMIN 
 
What happened is something fit to make you detest Herod, for, on his orders, all the children aged two or younger were pitilessly massacred before their mothers' eves and in their arms.
 
SUSANNA, holding Dismas with terror.
 
Is it possible? .Ah! I can't believe such barbarity! Poor mothers, they will die of sorrow.... As for me. I'd already bedead if my treasure had been snatched from me....
 
ABRAMIN
 
I'm telling you the truth; besides, all these things I've brought ought to prove it. I was able to earn them off with no trouble, since no one was paying any attention to me.
 
SUSANNA
 
But what motive did the king have to do something so low. o criminal? Why has he struck dead all these innocents?
 
ABRAMIN
 
No one knows for sure the reason for this hideous act; everyone has his own explanation. There are those who say that some foreign kings were the cause of it, when they came to ask Herod where to find the newborn king of the Jews, because having seen his star, they wanted to worship him. Sensing a rival and wanting to be rid of him at all cost, Herod made useless searches for him, then decided to put all these children to death, as a sure way of exterminating David's descendant.
 
SUSANNA, in thought.
 
What an astonishing story! An infant who receives the adoration of foreign kings, who makes Herod tremble on his throne.... Wouldn't this be the Messiah awaited by the Jews?
 
ABRAMIN
 
I don't know; in any case, his empire will never exist, since he's just been massacred. The god who protects me is Mercury and I recognize no other; in his name and in his honor, I'm going to undertake new exploits. (Getting up, he takes his weapons and says to his companions:) Let's go, my friends, let's leave!.... (They exit.)
 
[Scene 3] 
 

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RP6 05v

 

SUSANNA, looking over the things scattered on the floor.
 
What have I done to Heaven to be so plunged in grief? Perhaps Abramin's crimes have brought divine vengeance upon us.... .Ah! If I knew where God lives, I would go, even across the seas, and throw myself at His feet to ask Him for the life of my child and pardon for Abramin's crimes. God would not deny the prayer of a mother's heart that trusts in Him...
I feel that He must be infinitely good, the unknown Being who created me, and I would like to know Him. I would like to deliver Dismas to Him, so He might make him a valiant warrior in His kingdom. For I desire the happiness of my son more than my own and, to see him happy, I'd give my life a thousand times over.
But my spirit is wandering.... I'll never leave this desert cave, the Lord I seek will never hear my prayer... He would have to lower Himself to me in order for my desire to be any more than a chimera.... Only a mother could conceive such a dream. Alas, why can it not come true!... (She weeps). 

 

 

 

[Scene 4]

There is a gentle knock at the door. SUSANNA abruptly raises her head and says in a firm voice:

Who's there?

SAINT JOSEPH

We are poor, worn-out travelers who ask hospitality of you for the night.

SUSANNA

This cavern is not an inn. Take to the road; we don't have lodgings for travelers.

THE BLESSED VIRGIN

In the name of your child, if you are a mother, don't refuse us the shelter we ask.

SUSANNA half-opens the door.
When she sees Mary holding the Child Jesus, she says in a gentle voice:

In the name of my son, I can refuse nothing. One can see that you, too, are a mother, since you know so well the weakness of a mother's heart.

 

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