HEROD: Poor good men hereabout! On pain of limb and land, Cease your shouting loud And still as stone now stand; To my speaking, record! You ought to give renown And humbly bow down To me, your lovely lord. You ought, in field and town, To bow at my bidding, With reverence and renown, As is right for such a king, The lordliest alive. Whoever is not bound, By almighty Mahound, To death I shall him drive. So bold no man must be To ask for help or favour But of Mahound and me; This world is in our power To rule between us two. The source of wealth are we, And my chief help is he; What can you say hereto? 1 COUNSELLOR: Lord, for what you wish to do, All folk in line will fall To pay attention to you; None will object at all. You know that, certainly; And if they wish not so, We soon would work them woe. HEROD: Yes, fair sirs; so should it be. 2 COUNSELLOR: Lord, to tell the truth, Full well we understand That Mahound is God in sooth, And you are lord of every land. Therefore, as God me speed, I advise that we should hear With pleasure may you cheer. HEROD: You say quite well, indeed. But I am annoyed now, so That blithe I may not be. For three kings, as you know, Have come through this country, And said they sought a swain. 1 COUNSELLOR: That deed I think they'll rue; For, had their tales been true, They'd come this way again! 2 COUNSELLOR: We heard them to you say That if they found that child They'd tell you right away. But surely, they're beguiled! Such tales, let's not believe; We all know this is true: No man shall never live To have mastery of you! 1 COUNSELLOR: They're too ashamed, certainly, To meet you any more. HEROD: But why should they so eagerly Say all these things before: To say a boy was born, The most of might and main? They will be back again, Although the devil had sworn. However their search went, Their intentions still were bad, Because they always meant To seek that puny lad, And make known what was said! 2 COUNSELLOR: No, lord, they learned too late; Our bliss will never abate! And therefore, lord, be glad! MESSENGER: May Mahound without peer, My lord, save you and see. HEROD: Messenger, come near, And a blessing on you be. What news? Can you tell any? MESSENGER: Yes, lord; since I was here I have gone everywhere; And seen marvels, full many. HEROD: Tell the marvels - but I mean The ones that will be mirth for me. MESSENGER: Lord, even as I have seen, The truth you soon shall see, If you will, readily: I saw, between two towns, Three kings, with perfect crowns, Riding full royally. HEROD: Ah! Boy, you spoke out of turn! MESSENGER: Sir, there is no help for it. HEROD: Oho! By sun and moon, Then we'll hear news tonight. Do you think that they will come soon, Here, into my sight, With any news at hand? MESSENGER: Nay, lord, their business is done. HEROD: Why? Where have they gone? MESSENGER: Each one to his own land. HEROD: How say you lad? Let be! MESSENGER: I say, forth have they passed. HEROD: What? Forth? Away from me? Messenger; Yes, lord, in faith, full fast. For I heard and took heed Just how they went, all three, Into their own country. HEROD: Ah! Dogs! The devil you speed! MESSENGER: Sir, more of their meaning Yet well I understood: How they made offering Unto that noble lad That recently is born. They say he will be king, And rule each earthly thing. HEROD: Alas. Then I am lorn. Fie on them! Traitors! Fie! Will they beguile me thus? MESSENGER: Lord, by their prophecy, They named his name "Jesus." HEROD: Fie on you, lad! Lies, lies! 2 COUNSELLOR: Unless you leave, quickly, You'll die here painfully: Proclaiming him in this wise! MESSENGER: To blame me thus is wrong, For that is how things are. HEROD: You lie, you traitor strong! Never come me near! Upon my life and limb I'll catch that traitor, aye! I'll make him hang on high, Both you, you knave, and him! MESSENGER: I am not worthy of blame, But farewell, all this heap. 1 COUNSELLOR: Go, in the devil's name, Or I will make you leap, And pay for this ado! HEROD: Alas, for great sorrow: No man can tell my woe. What the devil is best to do? 2 COUNSELLOR: Lord, amend your cheer, And don't let this annoy. For you shall surely hear That lad how to destroy; We'll tell you, if we can. HEROD: You can't come even near; For it is past two year Since all this trouble began. 1 COUNSELLOR: Lord, you'd need not fear or doubt Though it were four or five. Just gather a great rout Of the keenest knights alive, And tell them, ding to dead All boy infants they have found In Bethlehem and all around; Let them seek in every stead. 2 COUNSELLOR: Lord, spare none - your heart relieve - That are still within two years; That brat shall then perceive All his gladness turn to tears, When he painfully shall bleed HEROD: For sure you've spoken well; As you've said, every deal I shall order done, indeed. Sir knights, courteous to the end, Though this business is all new, You shall find me your friend If at this time you are true. 1 SOLDIER: What say you, lord? Let's see. HEROD: To Bethlehem must you wend, To bring a shameful end To that brat who'd master me. All around the town you'll need To inquire and to spy, For there is a chance indeed That he'll end this Jewry, And that surely would be shame. 2 SOLDIER: We'd be disgraced, I say, If he should get away, For we would be to blame. 1 SOLDIER: Full soon he shall be caught, Of that I make my vow. 1 COUNSELLOR: Seize him, as you ought, And let me tell you how To work when there you've come. Because you know him not, To death they must be brought: Male children, every one. HEROD: Yes, all within two year, No matter how they plead. 2 SOLDIER: Lord, as you tell us here, We understand indeed. We surely shall not rest. 1 SOLDIER: Come, fellows, follow me. Well, children we can see, [And still at mother's breast.] 1 WOMAN: Curse you, you thieves, I say; You've slain my seemly son! 2 SOLDIER: These brats shall dearly pay In this grief that's begun; So, let go of him, fast. 2 WOMAN: Alas, for woe, I die; But save my son shall I, While my own life shall last. 1 SOLDIER: Ah! Dame, the devil you speed; I will return your blow! 1 WOMAN: To die I'm not afraid, I let you surely know, To save my son so dear. 1 SOLDIER: To arms! For we have need; But if we do this deed, These girls will kill us here. 2 WOMAN: Alas, this loathsome strife, No joy I'll ever meet; The knight upon his knife Has slain my son so sweet, And I had but him alone. 1 WOMAN: Alas, I've lost my life! There was never so woeful a wife Who ever made such moan, But surely, I'd be loth If they thus, unharmed, rode. 1 SOLDIER: The devil take you both, False witches; are you mad? 2 WOMAN: No, false villains, you lie! 1 SOLDIER: If you are mad or wroth, You'll not escape unscathed; Let's go, immediately! 1 WOMAN: Alas that we were made In this world, women to be; Our children - with pain we've paid, Thus in our sight to see Them piteously killed. 2 WOMAN: And yet, it's all for naught; The one that they have sought They'll never come near till. 1 SOLDIER: Let's go to the king; Of all this fighting keen, I shall hold back nothing Of all that we have seen. 2 SOLDIER: No, surely, nor shall I. We have done his bidding However their hands they wring; We'll say so, truthfully. 1 SOLDIER: Mahound, our god of might, Save you, Sir Herod the King. 1 COUNSELLOR: Lord, listen to your knight; He will tell you now tiding Of the sport, where they have been. HEROD: If they have done well And all their promise held, Then rejoicing shall be seen. 2 SOLDIER: As you told us, lord, each one, In countries where we've come - HEROD: Sir, by Moon and Sun, You are welcome home And worthy to have reward. Have you got us this brat? 1 SOLDIER: Where we found a few, or a lot, We'll swear that none was spared. 2 SOLDIER: Lord, they are dead, each one; What would you we did more? HEROD: I only wanted the one The kings spoke of before: The master; did you catch That one? Now, quickly say! 1 SOLDIER: My lord, we had no way To recognize the wretch. 2 SOLDIER: To death we have them brought About all Bethlehem town. HEROD: You lie! Your news is nought; May the devils of Hell you drown! That boy may well have fled; Your effort's been for naught! Until that lad is caught I shall never rest in bed. 1 COUNSELLOR: We will go with you then To ding that dastard down. HEROD: To arms, every man That holds true to Mahound. Where they a thousand score, They'd curse this bad bargain. Come after as you can, For we will go before.
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