Androcles and the Lion
Overture; forest sounds, roaring of lions, Christian hymn faintly.
A jungle path. A lion's roar, a melancholy suffering roar, comes from the jungle. It
is repeated nearer. The lion limps from the jungle on three legs, holding up his
right forepaw, in which a huge thorn sticks. He sits down and contemplates it. He
licks it. He shakes it. He tries to extract it by scraping it along the ground, and
hurts himself worse. He roars piteously. He licks it again. Tears drop from his
eyes. He limps painfully off the path and lies down under the trees, exhausted
with pain. Heaving a long sigh, like wind in a trombone, he goes to sleep.
Androcles and his wife Megaera come along the path. He is a small, thin,
ridiculous little man who might be any age from thirty to fifty-five. He has sandy
hair, watery compassionate blue eyes, sensitive nostrils, and a very presentable
forehead; but his good points go no further; his arms and legs and back, though
wiry of their kind, look shrivelled and starved. He carries a big bundle, is very
poorly clad, and seems tired and hungry.
His wife is a rather handsome pampered slattern, well fed and in the prime of life.
She has nothing to carry, and has a stout stick to help her along.
MEGAERA (suddenly throwing down her stick) I won't go another step.
ANDROCLES (pleading wearily) Oh, not again, dear. What's the good of
stopping every two miles and saying you won't go another step? We must get on
to the next village before night. There are wild beasts in this wood: lions, they
MEGAERA. I don't believe a word of it. You are always threatening me with wild
beasts to make me walk the very soul out of my body when I can hardly drag one
foot before another. We haven't seen a single lion yet.
ANDROCLES. Well, dear, do you want to see one?
MEGAERA (tearing the bundle from his back) You cruel beast, you don't care
how tired I am, or what becomes of me (she throws the bundle on the ground):
always thinking of yourself. Self! self! self! always yourself! (She sits down on the
ANDROCLES (sitting down sadly on the ground with his elbows on his knees
and his head in his hands) We all have to think of ourselves occasionally, dear.
MEGAERA. A man ought to think of his wife sometimes.