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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/1560086
Rated: 18+ · Script/Play · Drama · #1560086
In the scene the details of marriage are worked out and it's consumated.
Act 2 Scene 2 The Prenuptial


This scene is in the galley (Captain's cabin/galley) of the boat. Pyrrhus is sitting at the table reading letters.)

(Knock! Knock!)

PYRRHUS
Who's there?

PHILISTES
Briseis and I.

PYRRHUS
Come in.
(They come in unsure, something important on their minds.)

BRISEIS
There's something Philistes wants to discuss with you.

PYRRHUS
And I have matters for you two as well. Now what's on your minds?

PHILISTES
There's something I have to tell you, before you get angry with me.

PYRRHUS
Angry! After all we've been through? I am long in your debt and the payment's overdue. Now what is it?

PHILISTES
It has to do with a woman, and they have a way of wrecking the strongest friendships.

PYRRHUS
A woman?

PHILISTES
A woman indeed! I didn't plan for it to happen and so far, no dishonor's been done.

PYRRHUS
Spit it out.

PHILISTES
I'm in love with Briseis

PYRRHUS
(Smiles, shaking his head)
Briseis, don't tell me you've fallen for this rogue?

BRISEIS
(Beaming)
He has my heart, Pyrrhus.

PYRRHUS
Poor girl, you don't know what you're getting into. What kind of man are you looking for anyway?

BRISEIS
A god I think.
But a good man will serve; with eyes for me alone.
One to wake me slowly in the morning and soothe my fretful nature.
A man playful in love, yet serious in responsibility.
A man of good humor, yet one who gives a house order and discipline.
Who will rule me fairly and the many "willful" children I bear.
A man with the arm to shield me, the softness to quiet to my fears,
And the resolve to make me mind.
Who at night listens patiently, if only with pretended interest,
As I talk about my day.
Who trusts me enough to share his own happiness and woe.
A man, who when all is said, yawns broadly,
And reaches out for my honest embrace.
A man to kiss me goodnight, turn down my lamp...
And send me blissfully to sleep.

PYRRHUS
This can't be Philistes. He has none of that!

BRISEIS
Indeed he does, and you know it as well as I.

PYRRHUS
(To Philistes)
It's my experience that all women are notoriously poor judges of character.

PHILISTES
Indeed, I have often noted this deficiency... They all have it.

PYRRHUS
What do you see in her, for it was never that clear, why I suffered her around?

PHILISTES
Well nothing of a goddess, for I could never afford one and one could never abide me. Still I kept looking for the right woman and the search was unrewarding...
(Scowl)
Until recently, that is...


PYRRHUS
(Smiles)
She must have some special attribute...

PHILISTES
(Grins)
She can make funny faces!

PYRRHUS
Anyone can do that!
(Makes a grotesque face)

PHILISTES
No! You're much too gloomy. Briseis makes me really laugh, which for me is a lot, since in recent years I haven't had much to laugh about. Then in the storm we sat on the same bench. Remember, you to the starboard, me on the port? You alongside "Old Stone Face" and me next to this tart piece of baggage... It was then that I began to notice attributes I was drawn to.

PYRRHYS
Such as?

PHILISTES
Well, she has the strength to carry a water jug.
And while we were long on the oar together, I noticed,
she enjoys repeating herself over and over again.
This demonstrates a strong and narrow focus,
that's relentless and utterly without compromise.
A woman who decides something and refuses to change.
Who speaks to me with a voice of patient condensation
As if I were born stupid or afflicted with mental illness.
Who's threatened if I seem to know more that she does
Or dare question anything, she's already decided

On the other hand, I've discovered she can cook.
This is an important quality that forgives a lot.
For example, her looks are not her strongest attribute.
Harsh is a kind euphuism for the truth of plain words
and without knowing, might have mistaken her for a boy,
For she has thin lips, a tight ass and shy little breasts.
Hardly my idea of a full bodied woman...
(Briseis gives dirty look. Philistes smiles)

Then there's that spirited look when she gets mad!
See that flash of anger in her eyes? You just wait!
Therein smolders, the promise of retribution.

Can you imagine the lengths of her discontent?
Did you know she has designs on me for this very night?
That she plans to ply me with wine and lure me astray.
To excite my passions and when she has me all lathered
to push away and cry out, "Hold!" which she knows I won't
And when I'm spent, blame me for everything that happened.
Then she'll have the power of guilt to hold over me
To make me feel ashamed and dishonorable, or worse,
threaten to reveal me for what I am; an ingrate,
using friendship as opportunity for mischief,
behind your back.

PYRRHUS
Something must be done, and soon! This is all very unexpected. While it goes against my better judgment..... You've got my blessing, if that's what you're looking for. But be advised that the two of you see love differently and you've much to reconcile.... Starting tonight.

BRISEIS
(Jumps up and kisses Pyrrhus on the cheek)
I love you Pyrrhus!
(Then embraces Philistes, kissing his lips)
And you too, cut purse of my heart!

PYRRHUS
(Clears throat)
Now I have matters of a different sort to discuss. Dispatches have arrived. Agamemnon is dead, murdered by Clytemnestra. Orestes is in disgrace, so sad... and the betrothal is off... you know, with Hermione, Menelaus' daughter. Now the King wants me to marry her! Can you believe that?

PHILISTES
How do you see it, Pyrrhus?

PYRRHUS
As a political marriage, a prospect I've always dreaded. A loveless eternity for me and a woman I don't even know. My grandfather, Peleus, is already making the arrangements.

PHILISTES
Is it really such a bad thing?

PYRRHUS
I've spent my life doing what others expected. Is there no end? Have I no life of my own?

PHILISTES
What kind of life do you have in mind?

PYRRHUS
Well, since this's the night for revelations, I might as well tell you that I'm in love with Andromacha.

PHILISTES AND BRISEIS
Nooooo...

PHILISTES
I never would have guessed.

BRISEIS
Me neither!

PYRRHUS
Come now Briseis, use that fertile imagination of yours and help me find a way out of this mess.

BRISEIS
It's not really that difficult.

PYRRHUS
Enlighten me.

BRISEIS
Marry Hermonie, get her pregnant and then send her home to "Visit." That's the last you'll ever see of her. Once Astyanax is safe, tell Andromacha the truth. That should be worthy of a little gratitude.

PYRRHUS
I'm a fool to let you get away... but I fear the boy will never be safe.

PHILISTES
(Seriously)
He must be taken somewhere beyond the edge of civilization. To be raised in anonymity, where none can give report, across the frontier. Macedonia is a good choice.


PYRRHUS
But who will I ever trust?
(Philistes and Briseis look hard at one another)

PHILISTES
We will undertake the task. Who else is there?

PYRRHUS
I know and it's breaking my heart. What will I ever do without you?
(They all embrace)

ANDROMACHA
(Outside their door)
When will my life stop unravelling?
Do fitful dreams portend what lies ahead?
Some say we can influence our fate.
Well, if that's true, it isn't much!
We must be able to do something
or what's the purpose of living?
We can't blame all our misfortune
on a scroll written before our time.
That's too convenient an excuse
for throwing up our hands and quitting.
If we can't change our destiny
then why not make something of it?
Take some good from a bad situation.
Stand up and let our attitude show,
and if it earns a slap in the mouth,
what's that taken with all the rest?
(Knock! Knock!)

PYRRHUS
Who's there?

ANDROMACHA
Andromacha.

PYRRHUS
(Taken by surprise. Speaks low)
What could she want?

PHILISTES
Perhaps she comes to strike a bargain.

PYRRHUS
What has she to offer?

PHILISTES
Her honor.

PYRRHUS
For what?

PHILISTES
Your hopes?

PYRRHUS
She's not that kind of woman.

BRISEIS
Well why don't you just ask her and find out.
(They pick up and begin to leave)

PYRRHUS
Not so fast you two!
(Flushed)
I need chaperones... No! No! I mean witnesses. I will not abide any mean and petty gossip! Come In.
(Andromacha enters and a disquieting silence follows)
To what do I owe the pleasure?

ANDROMACHA
So you have a voice after all.

PYRRHUS
I'm well taught. What brings you?

ANDROMACHA
(Sarcastically)
I'm told that you're going to pass the women around, so I thought I'd drop by and pick up my assignment.

PYRRHUS
There's no assignment for you.

ANDROMACHA
May I see the list?

PYRRHUS
Certainly, and when you finish you can post it on the mast.

ANDROMACHA
(She reads list)
You can't be serious. By what criteria did you match them?

PYRRHUS
Age, size and looks.

ANDROMACHA
I would have guessed as much.

PYRRHUS
Does it matter how it begins? In the end they'll all be introduced.

ANDROMACHA
(Strong with concern)
You mustn't do this.

PYRRHUS
(Taken back)
It's the custom. The men won't be put off any longer. Tell her Briseis about our customs.

BRISEIS
(Looks down)
It's as he says.

ANDROMACHA
(Edge of anger)
I can see that. What I question is how you intend to accomplish it.

PYRRHUS
You've a better means?

ANDROMACHA
Yes, Let me amend the assignments and then you can make them permanent.

PYRRHUS
How so?

ANDROMACHA
Make them slave wives instead of chattel.

PYRRHUS
What? These women cost a king's ransom. This way nobody gets too attached.

ANDROMACHA
Is money all you think about?

PYRRHUS
You serve shame on an empty platter. Unless of course there's something you have to offer in return?

ANDROMACHA
Nothing that's not yours for the taking.

PYRRHUS
I don't take from a woman, what's not offered.

ANDROMACHA
You would have me welcome you... with all that's between us?

PYRRHUS
Your welcome isn't required; only your consent.

ANDROMACHA
If I give it, will you honor my request?

PYRRHUS
(Shocked... can't believe what he is hearing.)
There's no honor here for anyone. I'm a scoundrel, haggling price with a whore. A pen Philistes. Whenever there is doubt about a business proposition the provisions must be set to writing. Here, amend the list to suit yourself while I draft the articles.
(A pause while they write, when they both finish...)
Give it to me!
(Adds the amended list)
There, its done! A fair document, good in any court. Read it carefully. Agree to every word. Then put your signature next to mine.
(She starts to sign)
Philistes, summon the crew.

PHILISTES
Aye, my lord

ANDROMACHA
(Stops short)
For what purpose the muster?

PYRRHUS
What you sign you can read aloud to everyone.

ANDROMACHA
This is a vile and infamous paper.

PYRRHUS
This is a vile and binding contract.

ANDROMACHA
I can't do it.

PYRRHUS
(Relieved... shrugs)

ANDROMACHA
Has your heart no decency?
(Signs)

PYRRHUS
Has yours?

PHILISTES
(Goes to bridge)
All hands on deck!

ANDROMACHA
(Follows him going first to side rail to say monologue.)
All things have a price and the bill comes due.
Time presses in and the need won't be still.
How I hate having to read these dreadful words.

"I the woman Andromache, wife of deceased Hector,
do accept the terms of this contract
that gives as slaves the captive women here named
to the men listed below.

Briseis to Philistes
Laodicea to Eudoras
Coryphaeus to Peisander
Daphne to Alcimedon
Dora to Phoenix
Alcestis to Automedon
Selene to Periphas
Danae to Menesthius
and
Penelope to Alcimus

And for this consideration,
I go freely to the bed of Pyrrhus,
to be his slave-wife. There, I will serve his needs,
as the duty requires, and his will commands

(Spotlight shifts back to cabin where Briseis and Pyrrhus wait listening. When Andromacha finishes Briseis speaks to Pyrrhus)

BRISEIS
Andromacha is a woman. She is nothing quite so perfect as you imagine her. Just as you're not the terrible man she imagines, neither does she walk on clouds of fleece. I've taken the pendant and I'm putting it in this coffer. Should the opportunity arise, follow your heart and if the time is right tell her the secret. I'll be waiting for the next hour. If you call I'll bring the boy.
(Puts the emerald and chain in coffer. Andromacha returns as Briseis departs)

ANDROMACHA
It's done.

PYRRHUS
(Working on papers, does not answer at first. At length...)
Close the door.

ANDROMACHA
(Complies. Then stands uncomfortably as he continues working. At length speaks...)
What now?

PYRRHUS
(Looking up, makes a distracted motion.)
You may dress for bed.

ANDROMACHA
(Looks around for some privacy, goes to the corner and puts on gown. Pyrrhus keeps writing)
I'm changed.

PYRRHUS
(Finishing, looks up)
So I see.
(Gathers up correspondence and puts it in desk.)
Come over here and stand close.

ANDROMACHA
(Advances, stops, he motions closer until satisfied with space.)

PYRRHUS
Open your robe.

ANDROMACHA
The lamp's bright.

PYRRHUS
So it is.

ANDROMACHA
May I turn it down?

PYRRHUS
(Shakes head no. Andromacha, with back to audience, opens robe. Pyrrhus shifts uncomfortably.)
My eyes frighten you?

ANDROMACHA
You look like a little boy, caught watching his sister.

PYRRHUS
(He looks up at her as if pondering an action of great importance.)
Cover yourself and sit down.
(Andromacha complies.)
I've a letter from Menelaus, King of Sparta. Agamemnon is dead, murdered by his wife. A betrothal between Orestes and Hermoine, the king's daughter, has been called off.

ANDROMACHA
Why are you telling me this?

PYRRHUS
Because Menelaus wants me to marry Hermoine now that Orestes is out of the picture.

ANDROMACHA
(Gloved sarcasm)
And you're looking for my blessing...?

PYRRHUS
(Begins pacing)
Let me cut to the quick of this. Love has come to me unbeckoned. If I had any choice, I'd have long ago put you out of my mind. But you stormed into my heart, filling my life with chaos, upsetting the serenity of my spirit and throwing it into a pit. And that's where it is now, fretting nervously, pacing back and forth, with a manic and unrelenting energy.

ANDROMACHA
You? Love me? By the gods you must be joking!

PYRRHUS
Would that I were. There's a lot standing between us, not the least of which is the death of your son, which I know you blame me for.

ANDROMACHA
Very perceptive!

PYRRHUS
(Stands looking at her, torn, on the verge of revealing the secret)
I want you to be my wife.

ANDROMACHA
Well tonight your wish comes true. A slave-wife, submitting to you just as my sisters are to your men.

PYRRHUS
(Looks over at the coffer trying to make up his mind)
What I mean is a real wife.
(Andromacha puts head in hands, rocking back and forth. Seeing this as a positive sign Pyrrhus walks over to coffer. Turns)
I've written Menelaus back telling him that you and I are to be married, that he can find someone else for Hermione.

ANDROMACHA
Not on my account?

PYRRHUS
For you alone.

ANDROMACHA
I'm not believing this.

PYRRHUS
(His back between her and the contents, takes out the emerald and chain. She sees it from a distance. He grips the jewel in his hand with the chain hanging down and walks over to her.)
I have a gift to celebrate our engagement.

ANDROMACHA
(Explodes)
You think you can win me with a piece of jewelry?
Bribe with a trinket the silence of all scruple?
Vile man! Too much between us? Spare me that!
Your father destroyed my life and left my mother
dying of a broken heart and then ravished Thebes,
the home of my birth, taking my friend Briseis,
but newly married, to be passed around like a whore,
her honor trampled, and then thrown to Agamemnon.
This same father, ignoring convention, killed my Hector,
and then dragged his body, three days around the city.
And pray tell me, why I should think you any better?
Didn't I see, with my own eyes, how you killed Priam,
a pitiful old man, stricken with dread for his family?
Did I not hear your blasphemy and watch your pillage?
Did you not look away as I begged you to spare my son?
Were your ears clogged when you took him screaming,
and went with great ceremony to throw him off the wall?
Take me as you will but I will never marry
a man of your loathsome and despicable character.

PYRRHUS
(Walks back to coffer and returns jewel.)
Tonight I could have said much, but its clear now that your emotions would betray us all. Its good that you jerk me rudely awake. That speech of yours wracks the truth as cruelly as I ever saw it tortured. Hate blurs your vision, seeing only the worst of a terrible time that needs no embellishment. And you revel in that simmering stew, your misery seeing only what you want, sad and haunting recollections to be sure, but memories that make evil much more sinister than it ever was in life, and not half so bad as what you keep reminding yourself. Believe me when I tell you there's no evil that can't be made worse and no fear greater than what we serve ourselves. Well now, since you've nothing more to lose, allow me to show you the most dreadful wonder, to unshackle joy from the chains of your conscience and demonstrate that beneath all that anguish lies a grace you never thought possible.

ANDROMACHA
(Pyrrhus walks up to her)
A wet fish will give you more pleasure.

PYRRHUS
As you like little cod, see what it avails.

ANDROMACHA
I'll be still as death.

PYRRHUS
And I'll be your resurrection.

ANDROMACHA
I'll grit my teeth and clench my fists.

PYRRHUS
I'll fill your emptiness with hope.

ANDROMACHA
Why must you torture me?

PYRRHUS
I haven't touched you.

ANDROMACHA
Your vile tongue touches me.

PYRRHUS
Should we get on with it?

ANDROMACHA
I'd prefer getting it over with.

PYRRHUS
Then how would you have me proceed?

ANDROMACHA
Hector needed no instructions.

PYRRHUS
And what did Hector do?

ANDROMACHA
What's natural with a woman.

PYRRHUS
And what's that?

ANDROMACHA
You know what I'm talking about.

PYRRHUS
Just answer the question.

ANDROMACHA
(Quietly)
A man gives and a woman receives

PYRRHUS
And that was Hector's way?

ANDROMACHA
That's life's way.

PYRRHUS
Life's way?

ANDROMACHA
For weakness to yield and strength to triumph.

PYRRHUS
Not the way I see it.

ANDROMACHA
Experience hasn't made me stupid

PYRRHUS
No.... ignorant.

ANDROMACHA
Then tell me great master, since you have no ears, the way it is with you?

PYRRHUS
(Shrugs)
A man's a vessel, a woman a cup, both serve the same wine.

ANDROMACHA
Semantics!

PYRRHUS
Don't you see the distinction?

ANDROMACHA
The distinction is that a woman serves a man's pleasure.

PYRRHUS
All men aren't the same.

ANDROMACHA
I can't answer for all men. I can only tell you that modesty has nothing more to offer.

PYRRHUS
I'm not interested in your modesty.

ANDROMACHA
Then what do you want?

PYRRHUS
(Picks her up and sits her on the table, moves behind her, holding her about the waist and begins talking in her ear.)
To be enfolded and embraced. To move as one, blind to the distinction of giving or taking. Each of us reaching out, neither looking up or down; eye to eye, straining together in the joy of one another.

ANDROMACHA
A fanciful delusion.

PYRRHUS
Tonight you won't be deluded.

ANDROMACHA
Master, your expectations are on the brink of a great fall.

PYRRHUS
Not mine, yours.

ANDROMACHA
We'll see about that.

PYRRHUS
Self-control will desert you.

ANDROMACHA
You don't know me.

PYRRHUS
Desire will sweep over you.

ANDROMACHA
I'll close my eyes.

PYRRHUS
In the darkness, imagination will be the eyes of your spirit, and she'll betray you with many a seductive whisper, breathing the unthinkable, into billowing clouds of possibility.

ANDROMACHA
I'll imagine only your face.

PYRRHUS
You'll warm to a primordial and urging madness. Your hands will grope, your flesh will heave and from your lips will come the timeless groans of creation.

ANDROMACHA
Ohhhh, how I hate you!

PYRRHUS
Love and hate are ends of the same passion.

ANDROMACHA
The dwell indifferent spheres.

PYRRHUS
Your spirit loses patience with that tongue of yours. Already her eyes are gleaming with expectation. Better use your own vision than see through that lens of hers. Reality is much less compelling.

ANDROMACHA
You speak nonsense.

PYRRHUS
Her voice calls to me from deep in your soul.

ANDROMACHA
Deep in my soul?

PYRRHUS
The refuge of your conscience. A room still clean and well ordered. It's where you go to hide, while all the world rages about.

ANDROMACHA
What are you talking about?

PYRRHUS
Where your spirit paces nervously, listening for my footsteps.

ANDROMACHA
My spirit? Indeed
(Puts hands over her eyes)

PYRRHUS
Does she not incline her ear?
Hear her heart pounding as I knock at the threshold?
Hear the creaking bolt and feel her thumb press the latch?
See her smile as it swings, lighting the space between us?
That look, as our eyes meet and she motions inside.

How she greets me with that long and familiar embrace,
on her tip-toes, pressing close, like a long parted lover;
now stepping back, (with invitation) her hands reaching out.
How we pause, breathless, to the vistas of possibility,
How our confidence gives vent to nervousness.

By the gods!
Have you ever seen such fluid grace?
She must be an apparition, with the scent of a goddess!
She spins enchantment, and in awareness,
covers shame with threads of rich anticipation.
From her lips comes the vapor of whispered promises,
reaching back through a lifetime, to the fonts of creation.
See how they perk? promising a nurture, long forgotten?

Alas
The time comes to act on sentiment;
To put aside fancy and forgive base union
those compelling pleas of eagerness.

Come,
Accept the lead and dance to the music.
Come close, step back,
Pushing and pulling, inciting desire.
Around and around, closer and closer,
further and further, back and forth
until there comes the moment of truth.

Feel the start as our bodies uncoil?
Halting breath, as heartbeat stands between us?
As anticipation strains, fumbling and awkward,
eager and trembling; while longing stretches
and frustration gropes for bliss?
Clumsy at first, but undeterred, leading girth,
with glad and gentle urging.

Enough!
let practice school passion on when to step and bow.
Let the moon shine brightly upon the here and now.
Let chest and breast be introduced, let lips make mournful groan.
Let finger tips and pounding hips excite the fevered bone.
Let rhythm skip the ancient rite, let conscience rile and flee,
With grace accept the needs of nature's urgent harmony.

The drum starts beating louder. Lighting knits the sky.
Thunder shakes awareness as wonder gives a sigh.
Faster, faster, back and forth, pounding like the surf;
rising like an arrow up, and falling back to earth.
'Til eagerness can bear it, suspense of nothing more;
'til one last wave rears itself and rushes to the shore;
'Til joy cries out her happiness, 'til the music ends;
To promises of lovers, and all that it portends.
'til at last with final sigh, we briefly get to to see;
contentment, lying in the arms of love's eternity.
(Turns down lamp.)










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