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Page 15 of 16
ACT THREE (cont'd)

(ENTER Bemba and Mindinaro excitedly)
O master, thou wilt kill me for this word,
I fear to tell--
What new calamity?
Your wife --
             my mistress --
                           -- the lady Procula –
She’s gone!
How mean you ‘gone’?
Her chamber’s empty and the purple cloak
You brought from Tyre is missing.
Ho there! Summon the sentries from the outer court.
(To Mindinaro) Go, scour the rooms beyond the stair.
Question the slaves.

(EXEUNT Mindaro and Bemba)
(ENTER Marcus and sentries)
Didst thou observe my wife pass through the gate?
No one has passed the gate
Save Longinus and the Jew who spoke with thee.
Then search the keep. You to the tower.
The rest deploy your eyes within the halls.

(EXEUNT leaving Pilate alone)
O cruel night! Her vision told
Of blood whose vengeance cry perpetual
Makes me accursed.

The postern gate that guards the steps descending
By the Temple area was found ajar.
Send soldiers by that way,
Along the streets towards Golgotha. Perchance
Her heart was drawn by that grim festival.

(ENTER Spurius unnoticed)
Saddle my horse and fetch my pallium.
Call out the tenth cohort. Frail womankind
May meet with many evils in the streets.
And even men see stranger spectacles
When Roman matrons flee their husbands’ love.
You’ve seen my wife?
If still she owns that name,
‘Twas she that scurried past me near the gate
That leads to Olivet. Brave wife, methought,
Who ventures to expose her tender life
Nor needs her husband’s strength.
What is’t to thee
What business called her forth? No more
Will I endure your venomed tongue.
My words must fail to blacken what is pitch!
Hell curse your life! I’ll have you sent to Rome.
Tonight’s report will bear your name and charge.
Let not tomorrow’s sun still find you here.

(ENTER Bemba who gives Pilate a scroll. He is about to unroll it when Spurius begins again)
O kind goodbye! Waste not thy vigil hours
On my report. I’ll be my own accuser.
A ship already stands at Joppa’s port.
Within a week I’ll stand before the Emperor.
His eyes are weak; his ears are credulous,
And I shall give them choicest nourishment.
My curse and my ill-luck upon your neck!

( EXIT Spurius)
(To Bemba) What’s in this scroll?
I found it pinned
With my lady’s jewelled brooch upon thy couch.

(EXIT Bemba looking back)
(reading) "Seek not to follow me. Too wide the gulf
That separates our lives. Too full of pain
If we should counterfeit to live as one.

(ENTER marcus with pallium)
O sad the day that tears our love apart,
But I have seen my vision and believe.
Between us stands a cross. Farewell."
(waiting until he’s noticed)
Your pallium, sir; the tenth cohort stands ready.
(absently) Dismiss them to their quarters. ‘Tis too late.

(EXIT Marcus)
Too late! Too late to check
The poison of remorse whose chill advance
Benumbs my spirit. Can one false deed,
Nay, rather, one mistake expose the mind
To palsied fear? Yet am I not the same
Before and after? Where is the Pilate
Heaven sealed for greatness? Where is he?
Then how am I so shrunken in my soul
That I must grovel ‘neath my inner gaze
Lest every glance detect a further flaw?
Was not my birth entoned in solemn strain,
My youth a paean song of trembling hopes?
But futile discord tears the strings
And life must end uncadenced.

Vile Herod shunned All taint of blame. I might have temporised,
Delayed the verdict …… I might have ….. might have …..
O foolish haste! Enslaved by circumstance.
And what have I achieved?
My integrity betrayed; my Procula -- gone!
And what-I-might-have-been turns saddened eyes
In silent strong reproach on what-I-am!

Why must our deeds so hardened grow
And crystallise in their results? Can man
Not cut the cord ‘twixt action and effect?
Or must the seed of doing relentless yield
Its fruit commensurate?

And now it is too late!
Too late to stem the tide of circumstance –
To check the flood of my responsibility –
Too late! Too late! Irrevocably – late!


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