1636 The Devil’s Opera – Snippet 47
Finally the story wound to the now-obvious climax.
That he told her all his heart, and said unto her. There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.
And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath showed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand.
And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.
And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.
“That can’t be all the story,” Simon exclaimed.
“I thought we could read the rest tomorrow.”
“No!” He leaned forward. “Please, I need to hear what happens.”
She looked at him for a moment, then said, “All right,” and resumed reading. Simon listened as the end of the story rolled out.
But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.
Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand. And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us.
And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars. And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them.
Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport. And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.
And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.
Simon sat back on his stool. He had never imagined it would end that way.
Ursula put her Bible away and took out her embroidery. “Not a very happy ending, is it?”
“No,” Simon muttered.
“I don’t like to read that story much because of that.” She pushed the needle through the cloth. “But sometimes, you know, we need to be reminded that the things we choose to do don’t always end up the way we intend for them to.”
Simon took a deep breath. “Yah. I see that.”
“Good.” Ursula focused on her work.
It was obviously time for him to go find work. He opened the door, but looked back at Ursula before he stepped through. Ursula’s head was bent over her embroidery. She didn’t look up when he left.
“Come in, Marla.” Mary Simpson herself met Marla at the door of Simpsonhaus. “Have a seat, dear. Coffee?”
Marla settled into a chair in Mary’s parlor, nodding to Andrea Abati, Heinrich Schütz, and Amber Higham as she did so.
“Coffee would be nice.” She hunched up a bit in the chair. “It’s still cold outside.” It wasn’t just the cold. Today was not one of her better days, although she had managed to hide that from Franz. He had a major rehearsal with the orchestra today, but he would have called it off if he had seen her starting to waver.
Within moments a cup was passed to her. Marla cradled it in her hands for a few moments to savor the warmth before taking her first sip.
“Ah.” She felt the warmth trickle down her throat and spread through her body. “That helps.”
Marla set her cup on the nearby side table, picked up her document case, and pulled out the manuscript of Arthur Rex. That she placed on the coffee table centered between all the seats. Then she sat back and picked up her coffee cup, still appreciating the warmth of the cup. She really hated being cold. And the warmth helped with her other problem as well.
“So, what do you think?” Amber Higham asked, interlacing one hand’s fingers with those of Heinrich Schütz, her husband.
Marla took a sip before she replied.
“It’s good.” She saw a line appear between Amber’s eyebrows, and hastened to say, “It’s very good.”
“Do I hear a ‘but’ in your voice?” Heinrich asked with a smile.
“Well . . .” Marla dragged the syllable out.
Heinrich chuckled. “Masses I have written, and motets. Opera, however, is a somewhat new thing for me, especially one of this . . . magnitude, shall we say. You, despite your youth, know more of them than I do. So please, give me your thoughts on this. I promise not to rage if you butcher my sacred cow.” He chuckled again.