Arthur of the Britons ([personal profile] arthur_of_the_britons) wrote1972-10-02 12:29 am

Episode transcript: Some Saxon Women

Episode 2.4: Some Saxon Women

Writer: David Osborne


Yorath the Jute’s village. Some of the villagers run to escort a wagon with a large barrel on the back, and it is dragged into Yorath’s village, amid a flurry of activity. Others assemble behind a seat that is brought for Yorath. Yorath comes out and sits down. The wagon pulls up. The Greek trader approaches Yorath.

Greek trader: Greetings, Yorat.

Yorath: [correcting the Greek trader’s pronunciation] Yorath.

The Greek trader laughs. A Jute woman brings a mug and gives it to Yorath. Yorath drinks, and hands the mug to the Greek trader, who casts his whip aside, wipes the rim of the mug, gives Yorath an ingratiating smile, then drinks. He then pretends that the drink disgusts him, but that he is trying not to let his opinion be known. He gestures towards the barrel, which clearly contains something far superior to what Yorath has given him.

Greek trader: There’s your wine – as promised.

Yorath gestures to one of the villagers, who brings a wooden stool for the Greek trader.

Yorath: Sit down.

Yorath taps the seat provided. The Greek trader snaps his fingers at one of his servants, who brings an animal hide to cover the seat. Evidently nothing in Yorath’s village is good enough for him. The Greek trader sits down, and waves the servant away, and flaps and blows at something in the air that offends his delicate sensibilities.

Yorath: Well now. How much? And I won’t pay silly money, eh? Just bronze.

Greek trader: Not money … Jute. A trade.

Rowena appears from behind a group of Jute women.

Yorath: Uh-huh? What then?

Greek trader: [lecherously] Some Saxon women. Five will do.

The Jute women, including Rowena, look perturbed.

Yorath: Ohhh.

Greek trader: A pleasant night’s outing for you. A few throats … slit? A few miles of forest walked. But they must be young.

Yorath chuckles lecherously.

Greek trader: And fair …

Yorath: I see … [chuckles] Herded down onto your boat … [sniffs, as if he smells something rotten] Sent across the sea, eh? To be sold as concubines on the slave blocks of Athens, eh? [laughs and leans over and pats the Greek trader conspiratorially on the arm] You bastard!

Yorath and the Greek trader are both laughing, like wicked children.

Rowena: Father! No!

Yorath looks ashamed, though clearly annoyed. Even the Greek trader looks a bit guilty – or perhaps just annoyed.

Rowena: But Father!

Yorath: GO!

He stands up and pushes his chair over.

Rowena: I too am a woman.

Yorath: Then you will know your place. You will know that a woman is born to be the property of a man.

Rowena looks outraged.



In Arthur’s village. Arthur and Llud are working at the forge. They hear someone on a horse approaching, and look up, as does Kai who is working nearby.

Llud: See the markings on the horse? Jute.

Arthur: One of Yorath’s men.

Rowena rides in and dismounts. Arthur looks slightly irritated.

Rowena: Arthur … [breathless] I would talk with you.

Kai: Well …

Arthur: Kai – her horse.

Kai goes to take Rowena’s horse.

Rowena: A Greek trader has come with wine. Wine my father would have at any price. What the trader wants for it is …

Kai: A dozen haunches of good meat?

Rowena: He asks for women.

Kai: [laughing] You see?

Rowena: [vehemently] Five young Saxon women!

Kai stops laughing. Llud looks a bit concerned, and Arthur, pensive, and a bit annoyed.

Rowena: Don’t you understand? They are to be sold, like animals.

Arthur: I have an alliance with your father.

Rowena: Women, like me!

Arthur: And I’m not seeing it placed in jeopardy by a few Saxons.

Rowena: But it won’t stop with Saxons! Next, he will ask … Saxons for Celtic women, and other traders will follow. The Romans, and Spaniards, and …

Arthur: Kai – give her back her horse.

Kai tries but Rowena knocks his hand away.

Arthur: Llud?

Llud and Arthur resume work on the sword.

Rowena: You have no pride!

Arthur looks sharply at her.

Rowena: Yes! Pride! I should have thought your own would have stopped you from selling women.

Arthur: I have sold no one.

Rowena: But you are willing to stand aside and see others do it!

Arthur: Get on your horse. Ride!

Kai glances at one of the villagers who comes to take the horse’s head. The Kai comes up behind Rowena.

Rowena: Arthur … [disappointed] Can’t you see what is at stake?

Arthur: Will you get her out of here?

Kai grabs Rowena by the shoulders. Rowena struggles.

Rowena: Leave me!

Arthur: She goes, now!

Kai picks her up and puts her onto her horse.

Rowena: Cowards! Hypocrites! You talk with your gored tongue.

Kai slaps her horse on the rear, and it gallops off with her. Villagers laugh. Arthur smiles slightly.

Kai: We’ll not see her for a month or two.

Llud and Arthur look in fascination at their work.

Llud: Count it not in months, but in moments.

A few seconds pass. Arthur and Llud look up. Rowena rides back into the village.

Arthur: [to Llud] Not easily dissuaded, that one.

Rowena: And still I say –

Arthur: [shouts] Hold your tongue!

He looks down at his work, then at Llud, and at Rowena, then back to the work.

Arthur: We shall see.

He bangs his hammer down, hard.

In Yorath’s village. Some Saxon women stand shackled to some posts, while the Greek trader examines them, feeling their arms and looking at their teeth. When he has checked the third one, who looks proud and resentful, Yorath offers his hand, and the Greek trader, evidently satisfied, slaps Yorath’s palm, sealing the bargain. The Jute villagers cheer. Yorath and the Greek trader turn away from the women.

Sentry: Ulah!

Everyone mills around, some trying to see what’s going on, some getting into a defensive formation.

Yorath: [to two Jute women] Get behind!

Arthur, Kai, Rowena and Llud canter over a wooden bridge and up the track, and come to a halt.

Arthur: Yorath.

Yorath: Welcome, Arthur. What brings you to our poor country?

Arthur: Hunting. Your daughter chanced upon us, and told us of a hundred nights of rare vintage pleasure.

Yorath: Hah! Yeah! Wine!

Yorath claps his hands, and goes to prepare to receive his unexpected guests. Arthur, and Kai dismount. Llud remains on his horse. Rowena looks disapproving, and as the others head towards the wine, she dismounts and goes to see how the Saxon women are faring, before following the men.

Yorath: Men have gathered to talk.

Rowena: To drink, and to rape defenceless women.

Yorath: Go.

Rowena: Before they are sold, pound for pound, like cattle.

Rowena looks pointedly at one of the women. Yorath thwaps his crop against his leg, in irritation.

Yorath: To our alliance and friendship … Arthur – and may no woman ever come between us, humph? [raises his mug] That’s what you’ve come about, isn’t it? Those Saxon sows. My daughter’s pretty tongue been buzzing nonsense again. Honey one moment – viper’s venom, the next.

Arthur: She’s right, Yorath. Sell your Saxon women to this Greek thief, and he’ll be back next year. But up the coast, to some Saxon chief, and the price will be Celtic women, or Jute women. No wine is worth the human life.

Yorath: But they are Saxons!

Arthur: Saxons to us. But daughters and sisters to their fathers and brothers.

Yorath: They have fathers and brothers no longer, Arthur – ja? Drink!

Arthur: Our alliance, Yorath? The peace between us – isn’t it built on trust in each other?

Yorath: Enough, Arthur.

Yorath turns and walks away.

Arthur: On something more than savagery?

Yorath: Enou…. gh …

Arthur: On respect for human dignity and life?

Yorath: I said, enough! [throws his mug down] I am the king here!

Arthur starts to walk back towards the horses; Kai follows, with his axe in his hand the whole time – very obviously guarding Arthur’s retreat.

Arthur: And a fool!

Yorath: Have care!

Llud rides up to join Arthur and Kai, leading their horses with him.

Arthur: An old fool, at that. Old and foolish enough not to respect the first law of life.

Yorath: Huh! Law! Hark at this pup, speaking of law! Heh! Legal-minded, are you? Well then let me tell you one thing, and then call me a fool. [He points his crop] There is a treaty between us. It says that each shall respect the law of the other. And my law, and all our law, is the Jute law, brought with me across from my own native land when I settled here. And the law in my country says that women are property.

Arthur: Laws that died with your grandfather.

Yorath: The law says that each woman shall be worth not less than two pigs, and the hides of ten deer.

Arthur: [to Kai] Untie them.

Yorath: Touch them, and our alliance is finished.

Arthur: I said, free them.

Yorath: I warn you!

Kai: [to Arthur] He means what he says.

Llud leans down and speaks quietly with Arthur.

Llud: Is it worth it? We fought long and hard to make this alliance real.

Kai: Blood flowed, Arthur, friends died.

Arthur: The blood that flows in the veins of those women is the same as yours.

Kai: I know that. So perhaps one of them could be my sister. The treaty – your treaty.

Arthur: Am I to submit to blackmail?

Llud: If you want to keep this alliance real, you have no choice.

Yorath puts a hand on his sword hilt. Arthur and Kai mount their horses. One of the Saxon women looks helplessly over her shoulder, as the Celts ride away, to derisive laughter from the Jutes. Rowena stands looking after them, forlorn. Yorath points mockingly at the departing group.

Yorath: More wine! Tonight, we drink! Hah!

Rowena leans against one of the posts, looking sadly at a captive Saxon woman.



In Yorath’s village. A cock crows. In the foreground, empty shackles swing from a post. All around, a scene of drunken debauchery. The Greek trader, lying among the sleeping villagers, sans his breeches, awakes, and sees that the Saxon women have been freed.

Greek trader: [querulous] My women …[he gets to his knees and puts on his hat] [aghast] My women! [he scrambles across the ground] My women! My women!

The Greek trader finally gets to his feet and runs towards where Yorath is sleeping in a hanging seat. Loses his hat and puts it back on.

Greek trader: Yorat!

Yorath: [half-asleep, but still correcting him] YorATH!

Greek trader: Yeah …They’ve gone! [pulls Yorath by the arm]

Yorath: Who?

Greek trader: [hysterical] My women! [points at the empty shackles] They’ve gone!

In Arthur’s village. Some Celt men stand in a defensive formation, with Arthur, front and centre. Yorath and three of his men arrive on horseback. Arthur draws his sword, and suddenly lowers it; on this signal, more Celts appear, their weapons ready, and surround Yorath’s party.

Yorath: Where are they? Those Saxon women? Gone! In the night. Where’ve you taken them?

Llud: Perhaps you’d better ask your daughter.

Kai swings his axe, and laughs. The other Celts join in the laughter.

Yorath: Eeeeghh! My daughter! She would have never dared it alone. [points at Arthur] He had a hand in it!

Arthur: No. True, I came to seek their freedom, but …

Yorath: Aaargh!

Yorath draws his sword, and so do some other Jutes. Arthur draws his and furiously impales the ground with it.

Arthur: Wait!

Some of the Celts move toward Yorath’s party, their spears ready. Yorath sees how badly outnumbered he is, and puts up his sword. Arthur walks towards him.

Arthur: I will not see blood shed in my camp … for the ravings of your maniac daughter. I tell you again. I had nothing to do with the freeing of those women.

Yorath: And I tell you …. that she would never have dared their rescue without your help.

Arthur: [coldly] You must believe what you believe.

Arthur turns his back and walks away. Yorath glares.

Yorath: Our alliance is finished. If you dare set foot on my land, you will be treated as an enemy. [to his party] Get out of here!

Yorath’s party departs.

In Arthur’s longhouse. Kai leans on the back of a chair while Arthur sits at the table, turning a knife blade over and over in the flame of a fat candle.

Kai: Arthur’s word is suspect. So a hard-fought-for treaty disappears on the wind.

Arthur: What would you have me do, Kai? Admit to a wrong I have not done? And what would that achieve? It could not bring back our alliance.

Kai: Not by itself, no. But if you then brought back to Yorath, those Saxon women … then all the fighting and death that preceded that alliance would not have been in vain.

Arthur: Not only would you have me a confessed liar in Yorath’s eyes … but …

Arthur looks as if he is getting an idea.

Kai: But we would keep our treaty with him.

Arthur: The law …

Kai: Law?

Arthur smiles slightly.

Arthur: The treaty with Yorath did say, each should respect the laws of the other. And Yorath was careful to explain his laws in detail … I will send my apologies to Yorath. And I will fetch him back his Saxon women.

A woodland path. Llud examines a thread snagged round a twig, then gestures to Arthur and Kai to follow him. Llud is on foot, leading his horse, obviously so as not to disturb any signs, whereas Arthur and Kai are following behind on horseback. They catch up with him out in the open. Llud, now mounted, holds up a hand to stop them.

Llud: [quietly] We’re getting near. Tie the horses.

Llud dismounts. The three of them, Llud in the lead, start to climb a wooded bank.

Llud: Come out!

The Saxon women run from their hiding places behind some trees and join Rowena, further up the bank where they stand in a line, ready to defend themselves with some stout sticks. Arthur chuckles.

Rowena: Leave us in peace. If we go back to Yorath, we go back, dead.

Arthur: Better still, return to life, and freedom. I give you my promise.

Rowena: Your promises mean nothing.

Rowena throws a rock at them, and the other women follow suit. Arthur, Kai and Llud run for cover behind the trunk of the nearest tree, making pained yelps and grunts whenever they get hit. Kai peers round the trunk, grins, and then goes back into hiding beside Arthur.

Kai: No one of them is my sister.

Arthur: We cannot attack them.

Rocks continue to rain down against the tree behind which Arthur and Kai are sheltering.

Arthur: Not if we want to take them back to Yorath’s camp in one piece.

Kai: What about us?

Arthur: While we’re trying to take them alive, they’ll beat us to death with their clubs.

Llud: Follow them … and leave a trail. [grins] I’ll be back.

Llud and the Greek trader haggle, in mime. The Greek trader bites a bit of netting. Llud holds up four fingers. The Greek trader shakes his head and indicates he’s charging six. Llud offers his hand. The Greek trader spits on his own hand and slaps Llud’s with it.

Llud rides back to the others, with a roll of netting behind his saddle.

Rowena appears in the distance. She gestures, and the women follow her from behind a hedge, out into a field. Llud is watching from under some trees.

Llud: Now!

Arthur and Kai, holding the net spread between them, ride towards the women. The women hold their staves up. Arthur and Kai throw the net over them, and they all fall to the ground, squealing and complaining. Arthur and Kai dismount and approach them.

Arthur, Kai, and Llud ride into Yorath’s village. The women, led by Rowena, who is comforting the first in the line, are walking beside them, tied together by their necks. The villagers come to line the route. Yorath, some of his warriors, and the Greek trader and his men, stand waiting.

Arthur: Your women, Yorath.

Yorath and the Greek trader exchange satisfied glances. Yorath gestures to the Greek trader.

Yorath: Your Saxon maidens. May you wax rich.

The Greek trader approaches the women. Arthur draws his sword and points it at him, holding him off.

Yorath: What is this?

Arthur: The law.

Yorath: The law?

Arthur: The law of your kingdom, Yorath. The law you brought from your foreign lands – the Jute law.

Yorath: Stand back. [points at Arthur, then at the women] The trader takes these women, now.

Arthur: No. They die.

Rowena casts worried looks up at Arthur, then at her father.

Yorath: [confused] They die?

Arthur: Now!

Arthur pushes one of the women towards Yorath, and the others have no choice but to follow.

Arthur: And by your hand!

The women stand in a miserable huddle in front of Yorath.

Llud: The laws of your kingdom say that no captives shall be taken.

Kai: The law of the Jutes says, all captives shall die at once by the sword.

Arthur: Kill them!

Yorath: Aaaawww …

Yorath chuckles, and carries on laughing as he walks past the line of women towards Arthur.

Yorath: It’s a good joke, Arthur. You got your own back. Heheheh! Fair game, eh?

Arthur presses his sword to Yorath’s chest, draws Yorath’s sword, and holds it up for Yorath to take.

Arthur: Kill them.

Yorath: [breathing heavily] Enough is enough, Arthur. We are friends. Allies together.

Arthur: They’re only women.

Yorath takes the sword. He looks worried.

Yorath: Be reasonable.

Yorath looks at the sword in his hand. Arthur puts a firm hand on Yorath’s shoulder.

Arthur: Saxon women.

Yorath: Once on the Greek boat, and away from the shores, they’ll be as good as dead, anyway.

Yorath begins to look ashamed.

Arthur: A woman is born, to belong to a man. To be used, bought or sold, and do with as he wishes. Prisoners are to be killed. We’re waiting, Yorath. So are your men. Waiting to see if their leader will stand by his laws.

Yorath walks around the back of the line of women. Rowena looks worried.

Yorath: Very well.

Yorath raises his sword.

Yorath: Aaaarghh!

The women scream and run. The warriors try to get out of the way, some of them falling over in their haste. Yorath runs after the women.

Yorath: Aaaargh!

The women trip over one another and fall in a heap.

Greek trader: Yorath!

The Greek trader runs after Yorath.

Greek trader: Don’t dare touch them!

Yorath: Aaaargh!

Yorath raises his sword over the women. The Greek trader clasps his hands anxiously. Yorath brings his sword down, but only to knock the plug out of the barrel of wine, which starts spilling out. The Greek trader tries to get there to save his wine, but Yorath pushes him away.

Greek Trader: What are you doing! … My wine! My wine!

Everyone rushes to catch some of the wine in various cups and mugs. The Saxon women start sneaking away. Llud, Kai and Arthur dismount, and go to get their share of wine.

Yorath: A sly dog you are, Arthur. Hehehe. You knew me too well, eh? [raises his cup] To our alliance, Arthur.

Yorath passes the cup to Arthur, who raises it.

Arthur: To Yorath!

Arthur drinks a little, but Yorath quickly takes the cup back. The Greek trader runs simpering up to Yorath.

Greek trader: Yorat! Call off your men! These women are mine! You can’t free them, they’re mine!

The women run past, still tied together by the neck.

Greek trader: We made a bargain, Yorat!

Furious, Yorath spits out a mouthful of wine.


Some of Yorath’s men run up the Greek trader, grab hold of him, and carry him out of the village, still protesting. All continue to laugh, and the wine still flows.

Arthur, Kai and Llud are riding out of Yorath’s village, Arthur bringing up the rear. Rowena stands beside the track. Some of the Saxon women are lying on the ground nearby, sleeping.

Rowena: Arthur …

Arthur slows his horse, stops, backs up a little, and dismounts. Rowena kicks at something on the ground. Arthur and comes over to her, looking pleased with himself.

Arthur: Are you going to say it?

Rowena: Say what?

Arthur: That you’re a fool. A shrew, with a viper’s tongue. That you were wrong. Wrongfully wrong.

Rowena slowly approaches him.

Rowena: [reluctantly] I was wrong. I was a fool. I beg your forgiveness.

Arthur takes her by the shoulder and pulls her into a hug. She holds his head, as if it were the most precious thing. Kai and Llud smile at each other, and ride off.