Roy Glashan's Library
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JOSEPHINE TEY
WRITING AS GORDON DAVIOT

RAHAB

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A PLAY IN ONE ACT

First Published in Leith Sands and Other Short Plays, Duckworth, 1946

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2016
Produced by Colin Choat and Roy Glashan

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                    CHARACTERS

                           In order of appearance

                              RAHAB.
                              SHUAH.
                              MAHLON.
                              CARMI.
                              A CAPTAIN.
                              SOLDIERS.

The living-room in the house of RAHAB, on the wall of Jericho, about
the year 1451 B.C. In the back wall is the doorway, giving on to a
terrace which overlooks the street a few feet below. The street one
cannot see, but in the distance are flat white roofs and a piece of sky.
In the right corner is a low bed piled with rugs. Down right is a small
window giving on to the country outside the city walls. Down left an
opening into an inner room. On the left wall a mirror, and below it a
low table. Up-stage of the table two large jars, one of water and one of
wine. Down from the bed a wooden chest. On the table, toilet articles
and sewing materials.

RAHAB is lying on the bed, ankles crossed and arms behind her head,
staring at the ceiling. She is a handsome woman, not in her first youth,
but still beautiful and possessing the sureness that is beauty's
legacy.

Enter SHUAH, from the inner room, folding a linen cloth. She is
sixty, and looks it; a sharp face and an unwieldy body.

  SHUAH.: It has stopped raining. [RAHAB takes no notice.] I say: the
rain has stopped.

  RAHAB.: [In a rich, lazy voice] You excite me. [She has not moved an
eyelash.]

  SHUAH.: Someone must go to market or there will be nothing for supper.

  RAHAB.: Yes.

  SHUAH.: Do you want to go, or shall I?

  RAHAB.: You go.

  SHUAH.: [Protesting] It is good business to show yourself in the
market. It keeps people from forgetting you.

  RAHAB.: They are in no danger of forgetting me. Not yet.

  SHUAH.: You're not as young as you were, you know.

  RAHAB.: How dull life would be without your singing, my little
mosquito.

  SHUAH.: When I was your age I used to invent errands, so that I could
watch the heads turn. You will get too fat lying there staring at the
ceiling.

  RAHAB.: At least my hips will not spread with sitting. [Rolling over a
little to look at SHUAH] It annoys you, doesn't it, Shuah, to see
someone doing nothing.

  SHUAH.: Yes, it does. It's not natural. What is there to think about?

  RAHAB.: [Rolling on to her back again] I was thinking that a thousand
years from now no one will know that we have lived. It is a horrible
thought. Have you ever considered it? No one will remember anything
about us.

  SHUAH.: Why should you expect them to?

  RAHAB.: I don't expect them to. It is because I don't that . . .
[Giving up the attempt to interpret for the unimaginative SHUAH] Oh,
well.

  SHUAH.: I need money if I am going to the market.

  RAHAB.: In the toe of my red shoe.

  SHUAH.: [Going to the shoes, which are lying by the wall below the
mirror] That's a daft place.

  RAHAB.: A shoe is safer than a girdle when one lives on the wall.

  SHUAH.: [Examining the coins] The cavalryman wasn't over-generous. I
suppose I must change my sandals if I am to go wading through the
puddles. [Changing her sandals for clog-like shoes] The paving of this
town is a disgrace. Taxes for the army, and taxes for the temple, and
taxes to keep the cavalry horses in shoes, but not a thought for poor
old women who get their ankles wet and lie awake all night with
rheumatism.

  RAHAB.: I thought it was the Israelites that kept you awake.

  SHUAH.: Them and the rheumatism between them. Though I will say that
the rheumatism lets up in the day time, but the very sight of those
little black tents on the hills [she pauses in the process of stamping
herself into her shoes to peer through the little window at the
country-side] makes my heart run up into my throat. [She stands a
moment, silent and intent, fascinated by the sight of the enemy] Do you
see that little white thing in the middle. Jabin the wine-seller told me
that that is their holy place. They carry it about with them, he says,
and as long as they have it with them they can do anything. Anything!

  RAHAB.: Except cross a flooded river and take a walled town.

  SHUAH.: They have magic that will part the river in two, Jabin says.
The water goes solid like glass and breaks in two, and they just walk
across.

  RAHAB.: Perhaps they can fly, too. [She has not moved from her
reclining position on the bed.]

  SHUAH.: You may laugh, but everyone knows that they are sitting up
there in the hills preparing magic to overwhelm us.

  RAHAB.: I hope they like the view of our palm-trees. It must be very
dreary up there in the rain. [In good-natured impatience] How you love
making a sensation, Shuah! What can a pack of sheep-grazers and
cow-herds do against Jericho?

  SHUAH.: I don't know. There are so many of them. The hills are covered
with them.

  RAHAB.: They are covered with gnats too. Stop peering at the
country-side, and get us some food.

  SHUAH.: [Coming away from the window and picking up a basket] Food,
indeed. My appetite runs away back into my teeth every time I remember
them. I think: before another meal-time comes perhaps Jericho will be
ashes and I shall be a cinder, a little, little cinder, among—

  RAHAB.: [Not listening] Get a pair of ducklings for supper.

  SHUAH.: [Coming to earth at once] We can't afford duckling.

  RAHAB.: Two plump, tender, juicy ones. [Waving SHUAH away] They
will take the taste of those thousand years out of my mouth. If one
isn't able to comfort the spirit one can pamper the flesh. [As SHUAH
is going out; in business-like tones] And don't pay Hoham for those
olives. They were bad.

   SHUAH goes out, turns to her left, and disappears down the rough
      terrace which makes a sloping path to the street below.

   RAHAB, after a pause, rises in leisurely fashion, and moves over to
      the mirror, adjusting her clothes and her hair. At the mirror her
      absent-mindedness changes suddenly into attention as she becomes
      aware of her identity. She pauses.

  RAHAB.: Ducks! [Her chin tilts back in silent mockery] You poor fool.
[Considering it] Kings have conquered and died and been forgotten: why
should you cry out against oblivion? A million million have lived
happily and gone down into the dust uncaring. And you make your short
time bitter with rebellion. [She begins to make up her face with an
absent-minded expertness. Desisting suddenly] It may be something I
eat. I must watch. Melon, perhaps. [She picks up a pencil and begins to
touch up her eyebrows] No. [She pauses again] It is a kind of sight.
One sees it like that, clear and plain. "Look, Shuah, look!" But Shuah
sees nothing. She has a different kind of sight. Shuah doesn't mind that
she is no more important than that pencil. [She considers it] Every
day a little less and then—nothing. Nothing any more. [She drops the
pencil on to the table as if it burns her.]

   As she turns back to the room, there is the sound of a far-away
      commotion in the town. It grows nearer, and while it is still
      distant there is the sound of running feet in the silence outside.
      The footsteps come rapidly nearer, and two men run past the
      doorway from right to left. The second man has hardly passed when
      the first pauses, arrests the flight of the second, and drags him
      into the room. Both flatten themselves against the back wall,
      right, and await the coming of the pursuit. The elder, MAHLON,
      is a man of twenty-five to thirty; the younger, CARMI, a youth
      of nineteen. RAHAB is standing against the wall between the
      mirror and the inner door, and they are unaware of her presence.

   Several soldiers run past, followed by a CAPTAIN. One can hear the
      voices of the people as they come to roof-tops and doors to call
      inquiries as to the trouble. The eddy of excitement moves on for
      the moment, leaving the room in comparative silence.

  MAHLON.: It's a blind ending up there.

  CARMI.: Yes, they'll come back searching the houses.

  RAHAB.: [In her rich, lazy voice] That will be awkward for you.

   Both men swing round. CARMI'S hand flies to the dagger at his
      waist, but MAHLON'S hand restrains him.

  MAHLON.: Your pardon, lady. We thought the room was empty.

  RAHAB.: I am honoured. Your company is much sought after, it seems.

  MAHLON.: Lady, we are strangers here, and—

  RAHAB.: When your friends come back they can present you.

  MAHLON.: Two gold pieces if you hide us till they are gone.

  RAHAB.: Two? Is my life priced at so little more than my favour?

  MAHLON.: Three, then.

  CARMI.: Five! All we have for ten minutes' shelter!

  RAHAB.: [Dropping her mockery] Why do they want you?

  CARMI.: [Into the moment's pause] We—we stole some money from the
inn-keeper.

  RAHAB.: [Slowly] Stole? Since when have thieves held themselves like
soldiers?

  CARMI.: [Alarmed by her perspicacity; rushing on] It was not very
much that we took. A small purse. And—and a bracelet.

  RAHAB.: [After a pause] Very well. For a price I will hide you.

  MAHLON.: You shall have every coin we have.

  RAHAB.: Keep the coin. [Holding out her hand to CARMI] I will take
the bracelet.

   CARMI, overcome by confusion, stands helpless, his glance going to
      the disapproving MAHLON and coming away again.

  RAHAB.: [Withdrawing her hand with a contemptuous flick] Never
embroider a lie, my friend. It calls attention to it. Then if you are
not thieves, what . . .

   There is the sound of the search coming back. The CAPTAIN can
      actually be heard saying: You take that one. I shall speak to
      Rahab.

  RAHAB.: [Picking up the top rugs on the bed; to CARMI] Lie flat.
Quick!

   CARMI flings himself to the ground on the far side of the bed, and
      RAHAB throws the rug across him.

  RAHAB.: [While she is busy with CARMI; to MAHLON, pointing to the
inner room] In there!

   MAHLON disappears into the further room.

   RAHAB picks up some sewing from the table, and sits down on the bed
      with it.

   Enter the CAPTAIN. He stands in the doorway, a hand on the
      doorpost, in familiar fashion.

  CAPTAIN.: Good evening, Rahab.

  RAHAB.: [Looking up and acknowledging his presence] Captain. On the
wall in daylight? What will your wife say?

  CAPTAIN.: I am looking for two Israelite spies. My men say they came
this way.

  RAHAB.: Spies!

  CAPTAIN.: Have you seen anything of them?

  RAHAB.: No.

                                                     There is a pause.

  CAPTAIN.: [Thoughtfully] It strikes me as odd that when every door
and roof-top is filled with people watching the hunt, you sit inside and
embroider.

  RAHAB.: Not embroidery, Captain; mending. Since when have bazaar
rumours and street fights interested Rahab?

  CAPTAIN.: [With a short laugh] That's true. You always gave yourself
the airs of a princess. [Doubt invading him; coming a step into the
room] All the same—

  RAHAB.: [Instantly] Stay and drink some wine. You must be thirsty
after the chase.

  CAPTAIN.: [Half reassured] No. I must go back to my men. You are sure
that you . . . [His eyes roam doubtfully.]

  RAHAB.: Then wait just a moment. I have something to show you. [She
beckons him in, and goes to the table between the mirror and the inner
door] The ear-rings you bade me buy. [She takes them from a box]
Aren't they lovely?

  CAPTAIN.: [Not greatly interested] Very charming.

  RAHAB.: I beat the price down until Sihon cried real tears. A whole
afternoon we spent bargaining. Wait till you see how well they look on.
[At the mirror, putting the ear-rings on.]

  CAPTAIN.: I can't wait, Rahab. I must go.

  RAHAB.: Oh, just a moment. They set off my eyes beautifully. There
isn't another pair like them in all Canaan. No, nor in Egypt either.

  CAPTAIN.: I'm glad you like them, but I must go. I'm afraid my men will
let those fellows slip through their fingers.

  RAHAB.: [Busy with the ear-rings] Where could they slip to, even if
they did? The gates are closed, aren't they?

  CAPTAIN.: Oh, yes, they won't escape from the city. But it would be
galling to let one of the other officers have the glory of their
capture. To-morrow night, perhaps?

  RAHAB.: [Still apparently engrossed in the jewels] Look at the lights
in them! Very well, to-morrow night. Send some wine if you are coming.
What I have will be finished by then. [She follows him to the door, and
stands there watching him go. After a pause; drawing the curtain across
the door] They have gone. [She whips the rug from the recumbent
CARMI, who flings himself on his knees at her feet.]

  CARMI.: How can I thank you? What can I do to show my gratitude? My
life is yours.

   But RAHAB'S eyes are on the inner door, where MAHLON is
      standing.

  MAHLON.: [Quietly] Why did you do it? You must know now that we have
little money.

  RAHAB.: Perhaps. But I have a large curiosity. [She is as quiet as he.
Between these two there is an interest, almost an understanding, that is
lacking between RAHAB and the more obvious CARMI, in spite of his
youthful good looks] The cow-herds breed men after all, it seems.

  MAHLON.: [At a loss] Cow-herds?

  RAHAB.: So you plan to take Jericho.

  MAHLON.: We shall take it. God has promised that.

  RAHAB.: Which god?

  MAHLON.: God. There is only one.

  RAHAB.: Your one.

  MAHLON.: Yes.

  RAHAB.: [Amused] Well [pouring wine into a cup], if he is as sure
of himself as you are, perhaps he is right. On the other hand, he may
not have heard about our walls. [She offers the cup to CARMI, who is
nearest her.]

  MAHLON.: [As CARMI hesitates] Not wine. Have you bread?

  RAHAB.: There is what Shuah baked this morning. [Indicating the inner
room] Under the linen cloth.

  MAHLON.: Shuah?

  RAHAB.: My maid. She is at market.

  MAHLON.: [Reassured] Oh. [He goes into the inner room for the
bread.]

  RAHAB.: [Sipping the wine; to CARMI] And what bribe, or what threat,
induced a Caananite boatman to risk crossing Jordan as it is now?

  CARMI.: Oh, we didn't cross in a boat! We daren't. [As RAHAB looks
inquiring] The man might have talked, you see. We swam the river.

  RAHAB.: [Incredulous] You . . .!

  CARMI.: At least, Mahlon swam and I held on to his belt. [As MAHLON
comes back with a flat platter of rolls] This is Mahlon. My name is
Carmi.

  RAHAB.: My name is Rahab. [She shakes her head as MAHLON offers her
the bread, and her eyes follow him as he goes to CARMI] Are there many
like you among the Israelites?

  MAHLON.: [As he and CARMI take their rolls and begin to eat]
Thousands. We were chosen by lot.

  RAHAB.: [Maliciously; a little stung by his unconscious magnificence]
Ah, well, in that case they will not miss you when you don't come back.

   CARMI pauses in munching his bread, but MAHLON chews with
      equanimity.

  MAHLON.: [Conversationally] What excellent bread! It is kind of you
to share it with us.

  RAHAB.: [Dryly] Entertainment is my business.

  CARMI.: But we must get back! If we don't, our people will not know
about the . . . [He catches MAHLON'S look, and pauses.]

  RAHAB.: About what?

  MAHLON.: About the woman called Rahab who makes bread so well, and who
must certainly be saved when we sack Jericho.

  RAHAB.: The bribe is a little—insubstantial.

  MAHLON.: It was no bribe, but a promise.

  RAHAB.: It is neither, Israelite. Just an empty boast. Not for five
hundred years has anyone sacked Jericho. What engines have you that will
breach these walls?

  CARMI.: We shall not need engines. Mahlon says that if the ground is
shaken enough the foundations will—

  MAHLON.: [Interrupting] My friend talks too much. I promise you that
in two weeks' time we shall take Jericho. And that you and your house
shall be saved.

  RAHAB.: And what if two spies are hanged over the walls to-night, and
no report goes back to the hills?

  MAHLON.: [With a slow shrug] Our women will mourn a while; our names
will live for ever on the lips of our people; and two more men will
come. But Rahab will perish in the ruins of Jericho.

  RAHAB.: [To herself more than to them] "On the lips of your people."

  MAHLON.: You won't save your city by destroying us.

  RAHAB.: [Almost testily; as one occupied with other thoughts and
impatient of interruption] It is not my city. I was born in a hill
village. [Indicating the bandage of torn cloth on MAHLON'S forearm]
Is this an Israelite custom?

  CARMI.: No, that is where the lion caught him.

  RAHAB.: Lion?

  CARMI.: In the reeds by the river. We spent two days there; waiting for
a chance to cross. Full of snakes the place is, too. You step on a piece
of wood; it is a snake sleeping. You hear a wind in the reeds; it is a
snake moving. You think: At last my feet are warm; and you find that a
snake has coiled itself round them and that—

  RAHAB.: But—the lion?

  CARMI.: Oh, yes.

  MAHLON.: [Ironical; half-amused, half-angry; drawling] Must you tell
about the lion?

  CARMI.: [Abashed] She asked me.

  MAHLON.: Oh, by all means let us not be tongue-tied guests.

   CARMI is not encouraged by the tone, but RAHAB, who has moved to
      her mending materials on the table, looks encouragingly at him.

  RAHAB.: Tell me.

  CARMI.: [Beginning tentatively, but improving in enthusiasm as he goes
on] You see, Mahlon was watching while I slept—

  MAHLON.: [Quickly] It was Carmi's turn for sleep.

   RAHAB looks half affectionately at him, and goes on rummaging in her
      basket for a piece of linen. When she finds a piece she tears it
      in strips.

  CARMI.: And in the early morning he heard something moving in the
undergrowth, and turned to watch. It might be someone tracking us. And
there, all of a sudden, was a lion, in the act of springing on me where
I was lying. And instead of shouting out, Mahlon, all in the instant,
pushed me to the brute, and fell over me, so that the lion went right
over us both in his leap. And before I was awake he had wrapped his
leather cloak round his arm for a shield, and with that arm in the
lion's mouth was stabbing the beast in the neck with his dagger. A
dagger is all we have for weapon, you see, because we must look like
ordinary travellers. I added my dagger to his, but by that time it was
child's play. There wasn't a scratch on me, but Mahlon had that
[indicating the bandage].

  RAHAB.: [Taking a small jar from the chest between the bed and the
window] So you saved your friend's life? [She comes to him with the
strips of linen and the jar of ointment.]

  MAHLON.: To very little purpose. [In answer to RAHAB'S eyebrows]
His tongue will kill him. [As RAHAB reaches for the wounded arm] It
is very well as it is, thank you. [He moves the arm behind him.]

  RAHAB.: [Hanging her strips of linen over the other forearm, which he
is still using to eat his bread] Hold these. [She reaches for the
withdrawn arm.]

  MAHLON.: I assure you it is a very slight affair, not worth so much—

  RAHAB.: [Unbandaging the arm] No one makes poems about a man who dies
of blood-poisoning. [As MAHLON submits] And having avoided the
snakes, and slain the lion, and swum the river, a walled town looked
just like a sweetmeat booth, I suppose. How did you get in, by the way?

  CARMI.: We came in with the vegetable carts yesterday morning.

  RAHAB.: [Pausing in rubbing a strip of linen in the ointment]
Yesterday! You have been two days in town? Where did you sleep last
night?

  CARMI.: We didn't sleep. We were examining the wa— [He stops
abruptly, but too late.]

   There is a moment's silence, while she stands motionless and the men
      apprehensive. It is as if she had repeated audibly: The walls!

  MAHLON.: [As she resumes bandaging; quickly, as if to oppose her
suspicion and antagonism] Why should a hill-woman care what happens to
Jericho?

  RAHAB.: [Conversationally] That ointment is good, but you are the
first man who didn't wince at the bite of it.

  MAHLON.: You will be safe, and all your family.

  RAHAB.: [Still bright and chatty] And after a sleepless night, too.

  MAHLON.: There will be riches for you, riches you never dreamed of.

  RAHAB.: [Pausing; furious] Are you inviting me to help sack my own
town?

  MAHLON.: It isn't yours. You said so.

  RAHAB.: It has been my home for sixteen years.

  MAHLON.: [Incredulously] Do you love the place?

  RAHAB.: [Dryly] I can restrain my ardour. The taxes are iniquitous,
and the Government as corrupt as any in Canaan . . .

  MAHLON.: Well, then!

  RAHAB.: [Taking fire from his complacence] But it is strong. And
magnificent. And beautiful. Who are you to pull down beauty? You, whose
knowledge of building ends with a tentpole! Who are you to destroy
palaces? What do you, cow-herds, know of civilisation? A locust swarm
knows as much! Have you ever planted a tree? Or carved a doorway? Or
shaped a plough? No! You are like hail, stripping the blossom and caring
nothing for the harvest. You are sand, blown in from the desert, that
makes a new desert of all it meets. Because you have courage and a sword
in your hand, do you think—

   She breaks off abruptly. Steps can be heard coming up the terrace
      outside. As they come nearer CARMI backs to the window, right;
      not because it is a means of escape, but to have a wall at his
      back; and takes the dagger from his belt, holding it, point
      backwards, in his clenched fist. MAHLON stays where he is,
      warily, his hand lying lightly on the hilt of his weapon. The
      steps go past and die away.

  RAHAB.: [Who has been watching them; quietly] No one will come in
while the curtain is over the doorway.

  MAHLON.: We are from the desert, yes. But this is our country. We are
no blind destroyers. We are sons come to claim our inheritance. Let the
King of Jericho submit, and there will be no—

  RAHAB.: Submit! Your impudence rivals your courage! Why should the King
turn craven the moment you shake your fist at him?

  MAHLON.: Because we are stronger than he is. And God has promised us
the land.

  RAHAB.: God again. Well, they say that faith is worth two swords to a
man without a shield. But faith will do little for a rabble without the
means of—

  CARMI.: [Roused from his bread-munching] We are not a rabble! For
forty years we have obeyed the law. A strict and jealous law, let me
tell you. Our fathers lived straitly in a hard country, learning to
forget the soft life in Egypt, so that they . . . No, not they, but we.
So that we should one day come into the country that is ours.

  MAHLON.: Carmi is right. We were born in the desert, both he and I. We
have never known any other life. But the land we lived for was Canaan.
Our mothers sang to us about it before we could walk. Our fathers told
the wonder of it about the camp-fires at night.

  CARMI.: They have long memories, our people. Even in Egypt, my uncle
says, the songs they sang were their own songs. Tales of the old life in
the green plain between the hills and the sea. Canaan is ours. We have
come back to it, that is all.

  RAHAB.: [Taking her thoughts from their busyness with a people's
traditions] You must forgive Canaan if the welcome is a little cool.
Her memory is not so good as yours.

  MAHLON.: She will remember us henceforth.

  RAHAB.: I have no doubt. And when our palaces, and our palm-trees, and
our temples are in ashes, how much richer will you be?

  MAHLON.: The corruption of the cities will be gone with the smoke of
them. We will build anew, build clean . . . [Seeing RAHAB'S
interruption coming] Yes, even if we live in tents while we do it. It
is not brick and mortar that will make us great, but the Law. One law
for priest and potter; one justice.

  RAHAB.: Some of us would prefer mercy to justice. It's a cold world you
picture, Israelite. I shall keep my bright, corrupt, beautiful Jericho.

  CARMI.: [Cheerful barbarian] Make the most of it, Rahab. There is
only a little time left. [He takes another huge bite.]

  MAHLON.: It is beautiful. [RAHAB flings him a glance of
appreciation] But when you are old you will look at the new Canaan and
remember only the cruelty, the greed, the—

  RAHAB.: [Harshly; arguing, it would seem, more with some part of
herself than with MAHLON] I should remember only that I had betrayed a
city!

  MAHLON.: There is no betrayal in helping us to escape.

  RAHAB.: Do you think I am a fool! Do you think I don't know that if you
die to-night the secret of the walls dies with you, and Jericho is safe?
What you have found out I don't know, but I know that it is vital.
[Going close to MAHLON; all her interest is in MAHLON] I can read
its importance in your eyes. Your tongue is aching now to tell the news
to your leader in the hills. And you ask me to help you escape!

   As she pauses, SHUAH'S voice can be heard at some little distance
      outside. She is exchanging the time of day with a neighbour.
      "Looks like rain again," she is saying, although one cannot hear
      her distinctly. "You been to market to-day? What was the price of
      ducks?" "Far too much," says the neighbour. "Eh? What did you
      say?" "Far too much!" "Yes, everything is six times the price it
      ought to be! I thought it was because I was marketing late, but if
      it was the same with you in the morning . . ." And so forth. The
      conversation goes on, far away, while the others talk.

  RAHAB.: [At the first sound of the voice] Shuah!

  MAHLON.: Tell her that we are friends.

  RAHAB.: The whole of Jericho knows your description. And Shuah hates
the invader. [Referring to the distant cackle] She has a silly voice,
but she is no fool.

  CARMI.: You saved us once when you had nothing to gain. Now it is your
life as well as ours that you save.

  RAHAB.: I won't do it. Am I to live the rest of my life with all
Canaan—["pointing fingers at me" she is going to say, but her
passionate sweep of the arm at "all Canaan" has upset the things on the
table. Her eyebrow pencil rolls to the floor. She stoops to pick it up,
and straightens slowly, staring at the pencil.]

  CARMI.: [In an agony of impatience] What does a broken pencil matter!
Don't you understand, you will live when Jericho is ashes.

   She stares at him for a moment, as if his words meant more to her
      than he knows.

  RAHAB.: [Slowly] Yes. I would live when . . . [Collecting
herself] In there, a ladder goes to the roof. [She indicates the inner
room] On the roof there is flax laid out in bundles. Enough to cover
you. In half an hour it will be dark. There is a rope there that will
reach the ground—

  MAHLON.: [With quick suspicion] A rope?

  RAHAB.: My—clients sometimes go that way. Go quickly. She talks, but
not for ever.

  CARMI.: [Taking both her hands and raising them to his forehead] Till
we come again, Rahab. My life is twice yours. I shall not forget. [He
goes.]

  MAHLON.: Nor shall I forget. You called it a boast that I made to you,
but before God it is a promise and I shall redeem it.

  RAHAB.: [Detaining him] One thing before you go. It may be that when
you come I shall not be here—

  MAHLON.: [Puzzled] Not—?

  RAHAB.: [Lightly] The God who promised you Jericho made no promises
to me. Let the Captain but dream that I had tricked him, and . . . [She
lifts a shoulder, expressively] Swear to me, then, that even if I am no
longer here you will remember my name. That Rahab, who lived on the
wall, saved you alive and gave Jericho into your hands.

  MAHLON.: I shall remember.

  RAHAB.: [Quietly; considering him] I think you will.

  MAHLON.: And now, tell me something. [As RAHAB urges him to go]
No, I must know.

  RAHAB.: Well?

  MAHLON.: Why do you let us go? Not out of fear; you are a brave woman.
Nor for revenge; you don't hate Jericho. Then, why?

  RAHAB.: For your bright eyes, my dear.

  MAHLON.: [Refusing the explanation, almost angrily] No, not for love.
You have known too many men.

  RAHAB.: You are clever, Israelite; most men would have been vain enough
. . . Listen, then. If I gave you up, to-night, my reward would be a few
gold pieces, spent to-morrow. If I let you go, your children's children
will make songs about me.

  MAHLON.: I don't understand.

  RAHAB.: [Briskly] No. How should you? [As the conversation in the
distance ceases] Go. She is coming. [As he disappears; going after him
to the inner door] What is my name?

  MAHLON.: [Off] Rahab.

   RAHAB nods, satisfied. She comes slowly down to the little window
      giving on the country-side to look at the distant enemies who will
      make her immortal. She is standing there when SHUAH comes in.

  SHUAH.: Robbers! That's what they are! Robbers!

  RAHAB.: [Startled] Who are?

  SHUAH.: Everything double the price because of the war! As if ducks
stopped breeding because the Israelites are in the hills! And leeks too.
I suppose the leeks just give up growing through shock. A pack of
thieves every one of them. There is the change. It is going to rain
again, and the damp is in all my bones. [Pausing to look at RAHAB] Are
you ill?

  RAHAB.: No, of course not. [The tone says: Why?]

  SHUAH.: You haven't counted your change. This day-dreaming of yours is
growing into a disease. What have you done all the time I've been gone?
Nothing, I'll be bound.

  RAHAB.: [Slowly, almost incredulous] I have overcome those thousand
years.

  SHUAH.: [With a glance at her; shrugging] I don't know what you're
talking about. [Making for the inner room] Shall I cook the ducks in a
pot, or over the fire?

                                CURTAIN


THE END

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