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Rada by Alfred Noyes




Author of "The Wine Press," "Tales of the Mermaid Tavern," Etc.



RADA, _wife of the village doctor_. SUBKA, _her daughter, aged twelve_. ARRAM } _two hostile soldiers quartered_ MICHAEL } _in her house, in time of war_. NANKO, _a half-witted schoolmaster_.

Several soldiers.

THE SCENE is in the Balkans, in a village which has just been taken by the enemy, on Christmas Eve.


SCENE--_A guest-chamber, the typical living-room of a prosperous village doctor in the Balkans. On the left, a small window and an entrance door. On the right, a door leading into a bedroom. At the back, an open fire of logs is burning brightly. Over the fireplace is the eikonostasis, with three richly coloured and gilded eikons, the central one of the Madonna. The light, which is never allowed to go out, is burning before it. The room is lit at present only by this, the fire-light, and two candles in brass candlesticks on a black wooden table under the window. Rows of porcelain plates round the walls gleam fitfully. On either side of the eikonostasis is a large chibouk, with inlaid bowl and amber mouth-piece. There is a divan with scarlet rugs flung across it to the right of the fire; and there are several skins and rugs on the floor.

Two Roumanian soldiers_, ARRAM_ and _MICHAEL, are seated at the table, drinking_.

RADA, _a dark handsome woman, sits weeping with her head bowed in her hands, on the divan_.

NANKO, _the idiot, sits on the floor, rubbing his hands, snapping his fingers, chuckling to himself, and staring into the fire_.

ARRAM Look here, my girl, where's the use of snivelling? You ought to think yourself damned lucky to be alive.

RADA O my God! My God!

MICHAEL This is war, this is! And you can't expect war to be all cakes and cream.

[_They laugh and drink_.]

ARRAM You ought to think yourself damned lucky to be alive, and have two men quartered on you instead of one. If your husband and the rest of the villagers hadn't made such a disturbance, _they_ might have been alive, too.

NANKO Exactly! Exactly! I used to be a schoolmaster, you know, in the old days; and, if you knew what I know, you'd understand, my dear, it's entirely a question of the survival of the fittest! The survival of the fittest! That's what it is.

ARRAM Wouldn't they have done the same to us, if they'd had the chance? We've got women and children at home snivelling and saying, "O my God, O my God," just like you. Don't you trouble about God. What can _He_ do when both sides go down on their marrow-bones? He can't make both sides win, can He?

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