SALOMÉ: I demand the head of Jokanaan.
HEROD: You are not listening. You are not listening. Suffer
me to speak, Salomé.
SALOMÉ: The head of Jokanaan.
HEROD: No, no, you would not have that. You say that to trouble
me, because I have looked at you all this evening. It is true,
I have looked at you all evening. Your beauty troubled me. Your
beauty has grievously troubled me, and I have looked at you too
much. But I will look at you no more. Neither at things, nor
at people should one look. Only in mirrors should one look, for
mirrors do but show us masks. Oh! oh! bring wine! I thirst ....
Salomé, Salomé, let us be friends. Come now ...!
Ah! what would I say? What was't? Ah! I remember ...! Salomé--nay,
but come nearer to me; I fear you will not hear me--Salomé,
you know my white peacocks, my beautiful white peacocks, that
walk in the garden between the myrtles and the tall cypress trees.
Their beaks are gilded with gold, and the grains that they eat
are gilded with gold also, and their feet are stained with purple.
When they cry out the rain comes, and the moon shows herself
in the heavens when they spread their tails. Two by two they
walk between the cypress trees and the black myrtles, and each
has a slave to tend it. Sometimes they fly across the trees and
anon they couch in the grass, and round the lake. There are not
in all the world birds so wonderful. I am sure that Cæsar
himself has no birds so fine as my birds. I will give you fifty
of my peacocks. They will follow you withersoever you go, and
in the midst of them you will be like the moon in the midst of
a great white cloud .... I will give them all to you. I have
but a hundred, and in the whole world there is no king who has
peacocks like unto my peacocks. But I will give them all to you.
Only you must loose me from my oath, and must not ask of me that
which you have asked of me.
He empties the cup of wine.
SALOMÉ: Give me the head of Jokanaan.
HERODIAS: Well said, my daughter! As for you, you are ridiculous
with your peacocks.
HEROD: Be silent! You cry out always; you cry out like a beast
of prey. You must not. Your voice wearies me. Be silent, I say
.... Salomé, think of what you are doing. This man comes
perchance from God. He is a holy man. The finger of God has touched
him. God has put into his mouth terrible words. In the palace
as in the desert God is always with him .... At least it is possible.
One does not know. It is possible that God is for him and with
him. Furthermore, if he died some misfortune might happen to
me. In any case, he said that the day he dies a misfortune will
happen to some one. That could only be me. Remember, I slipped
in blood when I entered. Also, I heard a beating of wings in
the air, a beating of might wings. These are very evil omens,
and there were others. I am sure there were others, though I
did not see them. Well, Salomé, you do not wish a misfortune
to happen to me? You do not wish that. Listen to me, then.
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