Style: Light-hearted. Duration: 6min
Balthazar - rather Oxford donnish; other-worldly – is on-stage
Caspar, - also scholarly – is off-stage
Melchior – a young scholar - is upstairs
(Caspar enters and continues astrological studies.)
Balthazar: ( enters, looking about as though he’s lost something, calling) Caspar, Caspar, old chap, old chum. Ah! Thought I’d find you here. Do you realise that there’s a good chance that the world as we know it may come to an end directly?
C [preoccupied with studies] – Mmm? What’s that my old fruit? End of the world again, is it?
B: [still rummaging] You know I think it really IS this time!
C: [still preoccupied] What makes THIS time any different from all your numerous other predictions of the forthcoming Cataclysm? It’s a wonder you and Melchior haven’t worn out the carpet on the stairs up to the observation tower! I, too, can see the unusual star patterns at present, but….what now? Brrrrrr!
B: It’s this scroll I’m trying to locate.
C: Scroll? ! What’s a scroll got to do with our calculations, in heavens’ name?
B: My student Melchior recently unearthed a scroll - you are aware how he’s been digging in the Babylonian ruins? This ancient item seems to date back to King Nebuchadnezzar’s day.
C: He bought it in the market more likely – some sheister probably dunked it in a pot of tea to make it look ancient. All right, where is it then? This tea-stained archeological treasure?
B: It was here earlier – Melchior’s probably borrowed it. [calls off-stage] Melchior! Melchior!
[to us] Where is that boy?
C: He’ll be up in the observatory – seems to spend much of his day down a hole and all of his nights star-gazing. [calls upward] Melchior! What’s the bet he’s lost the scroll?
M: [upstairs] Yes Sires! I am above in the observatory. There’s something…
B: [cutting him off] Melchior, yes, yes – bring me down that scroll if you have it. My learned brother Caspar and I are anxious to study it.
M: [rushes noisily down back stairs, draws the scroll from his robes] Certainly, Sire, I was just comparing its predictions with what I’ve seen…
C: [cutting him off] Yes yes – hand it over – and carefully – [M specifically avoids C’s outstretched hand and gives it B] C: [to B] Let me have a look-see, old chap. Don’t keep it to yourself!
(B and C look at the scroll. M returns to star-gazing)
C: [dismissive] Bah! Humbug! I wonder at you, learned companion! It’s the prophecy of that Hebrew dream-interpreter – your namesake, Belteshazzar – in his own language named Daniel. Surely you’ve seen this before?! This is nothing new, Balthazar. Nothing new at all! Bits and pieces of this work keep popping up all the time. They never say anything new. I’m surprised you’re even bothering to look at it, let alone believe this Jewish nonsense.
B: [angry] Caspar! Now you’re the one who’s surprising ME! One thing one has always tried to do in one’s studies is to be completely open to all ideas. And since when have YOU become an anti-Semite? None of us can be completely sure of one’s blood-lines. One is shocked!
C: Oh calm down, calm down, Balthazar – you’ll do yourself an injury! Don’t go bursting your foo-foo old chum! I’m just cynical about conspiracy theories. All right then – show me the bit you opine to be about the end of days.
B: Of course I’ve also seen the so-called ‘Daniel fragments’ unearthed – just as you have, my dear friend. But look! This is new: It seems to fit after all the well-known prophecies of world leaders rising and falling – after the prophecy you and I thought might refer to the Egyptians, then the Romans. Here – look at this segment – I’ve never seen anything like this:
C: [reading]: “I saw in the night, visions, and, behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”
B: Observe, Caspar! Never before – not in Africa, nor Egypt, Greece, Babylonia nor Assyria, India or China – never have we seen or heard of a Divine Man – a Son of Man – being given all the kingdoms of this world. Never!
C: [slowly] Yes, yes, I concur.
B: And tell me if I am not wrong. Tell me! What other prophecy of one-world government has ever come as this one does – promising to come in the clouds? Which I take to be a reference to the skies – the heavens.
C: That would be consistent with our studies, yes. Especially for Jewish and Mesopotamian thinking. The heavens – the clouds- the skies…
B: So, if this new scroll is to be taken seriously, we are living in the age where we should expect to see the in-breaking of a kingdom that all people, nations, and languages will be part of – and a divine ruler – yes! One who is, nevertheless, a son of man.
C: All this I can go along with, old friend. Even the timing of the rise and fall of empires. But one thing is missing:
B: What’s that?
C: Where is your heavenly sign? Your ‘coming in the clouds’ sign?
(Silence – they look at the scroll and scratch their heads.)
M: [offstage] Master! Master! Sires! Come to the observatory! PLEASE Come quickly!