ARIOCH: Suffere’d I their request to eat not of the prepared meats proscribed for them, but instead to issue them only vegetables and water for these ten days and then to judge if they are waning or waxing in their countenance.
BREM: An’ hast their calendar expired against this exceptional petition?
ARIOCH: Aye, an’ today I doth judge whether or no this discipline be perpetuate or to order it to be annulled.
(off) SHADRACH: Halllllllooooooooo!
(off) MESHACH: Halllllllooooooooo!
(off) ABEDNEGO: Halllllllooooooooo!
TREST: What rabble is this?
BREM: We are set upon by rebels. Sound the alarm!
ARIOCH: Hold thy peace, good gatekeepers. I know this tune and the chorus from which it is issue’d. ‘Tis the very subject of my discourse and of my charge. From Israel’s number they hail, by my troth or I am mistaken, it is Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
MESHACH: Shadrach! Do not mine eyes behold the most noblest of brows, chiseled of chins, and fairest of faces this kingdom couldst produce?
SHADRACH: Aye, Meshach, thou notest the posture bold, the stance cunning, and slightest gesture commanding from this paragon of authority! What say thee Abednego?
ABEDNEGO: ‘Struth! Mine eyes are blinded by the resplendent radiance that doth shine from his mighty magnificence, this archetype of Babylon! This model of man-dom! This visage of perfection!
ARIOCH: Oh, go to! Thou art like the mirage of the desert blown by the four winds, Abednego, without substance and wayward and rudderless in bearing—
SHADRACH: How now, our fine keeper, Arioch? How fair’s thee this day?
ARIOCH: Fair as fair can be counted, my good Shadrach. Let us see thee, my jollies, and take a measure of thee as thou hast eschewed the full table of my master noble lord king Nebuchadnezzar.
SHADRACH, MESHACH, & ABEDNEGO: May he live forever!
TREST, BREM: & ARIOCH: My he live forever!
ARIOCH: I have allowed thee this time allotted to eat as your forefathers prescribed, and now the day of reckoning is upon thee; if thou art haggard and drawn and lacking of vim and vigor, thou shalt upon pain of death return to my master and lord’s table forthwith and partake all that is commanded of thee.
MESHACH: We shall abide by thy judgment, my lord.
ABEDNEGO: Yay, verily, we are at thy discernment’s mercy.
SHADRACH: Fall in, my brothers, and present thyselves for inspection.
ARIOCH: Let us see what they God hast wrought.
MESHACH: Zounds! My head doth pitch and roil and spin!
SHADRACH: What? My brother doth succumb to a villainous malady within!
ABEDNEGO: Zounds! My knees doth quake and behold the quivering of my hands.
SHADRACH: What? My bother dost turn the pale of the sands!
MESHACH & Abed: Brother!
MESHACH: I am afeared that death close by thee!
an’ ‘pon thee too, I dread!
ABEDNEGO: Aye! Alack from a lack are we!
Such deprivation is’t deadly
‘pon thy heart an’ head!
MESHACH: Our lest breath we do draw free!
hence by an’ bye
SHADRACH, Mesh, Abed: Surely ‘tis said
An’ at once we die!
[SHADRACH, MESHACH & ABEDNEGO all collapse]
ARIOCH: Enough! Enough of these japes and jests!
TREST: These are they charges for which thou shouldst judge if their privation hast made them harried and haggard?
BREM: ‘Struth! Would that I be so affected with such affliction as this trio!
TREST: Faith! They are quicker in eye and wit than the whole of the conscription.
BREM: Aye! Ne’er have I seen such vigor in all the land.
ARIOCH: I cannot but concur with these witnesses. Thou hast the touch of thy God upon thee, and the cut of thy wit upon thy tongues. Prithee, hast thou kept with the learning in all manner of study and knowledge of all things native to Babylon?
SHADRACH: Aye, my lord. Thy book and measure we have devoured like hungry cattle to the fields.
MESHACH: Pigs at the trough!
ABEDNEGO: Lions at the kill!
SHADRACH: My brothers here can translate any document, edict or proclamation into all the languages of the crown; they are well versed in royal etiquette and decorum, and have learned courtly steps and can cut a caper or a double quick with any the finest leg in Babylon could put forward.
[MESHACH & ABEDNEGO dance]
SHADRACH: None but my brothers are better coached in art and arms and such a display of personal military tactic wouldst make an entertainment excellent for noble and groundling alike
[MESHACH & ABEDNEGO fight]
MESHACH: A touch!
SHADRACH: Well laid, both!
BREM: Well done!
SHADRACH: Examine any one of us in arts fine, arts applied, arts ancient, knowledge, wit and wisdom, numbers of accounting, your Babylonian constellations, lore of your gods, histories ancient, histories current, and recounting of the triumph’s of Babylon’s mighty hand and conqueror Nebuchadnezzar--
MESHACH & ABEDNEGO: May he live forever!
SHADRACH: May he live forever.
ARIOCH: Thou hast proven not only thy triumph in body and physic, but also in all learning that may be applied to the student of Babylon! Beyond measure ist thy learning as well as thy appearance and balance of humors.