Cain and Abel

CAIN: I am Cain, the firstborn child of Adam and Eve: the first human, in fact, to be born from a woman's womb: because my father and mother weren't born, they were created by God, in the Garden of Eden. So you could call me the first natural man, the first proper man, and all this world is mine by right to inherit, even though my father and mother were thrown out of Eden for disobeying God's command. They threw away what should have been my birthright before I was even born. Still, although it's a fallen world, it's a world worth getting. But if it wasn't for their sin, I wouldn't have to work for a living as I do now, because in the Garden of Eden delicious fruits grew of their own accord, and all you had to do was stretch out your hand: whereas now, I work like a slave, in the sweat of my face, clearing the ground and digging it before I can plant anything; and then it's a constant struggle against the weeds and brambles to grow any food. That's what it's like in the fallen world. All the same, the food I bring to our table is closer to the fruits of Eden than the food brought by my younger brother Abel. He's a herdsman: he looks after flocks of sheep and cattle, and he kills them when they're ready to eat. I mean, he actually kills them: he cuts their throats and out comes their blood. I've watched him doing it. It's a strange thing to see an animal die. It makes me feel odd inside. My father and mother say there was no such thing as death in the Garden of Eden. It's strange to see his knife cutting into the animal's throat, the blood running out and the beast getting weaker: its eyes clouding over: struggling less and less: and then there it is, something which was alive a few moments earlier, lying dead. Surely it can't be pleasing to God to see one of his creatures, something he created, lying dead on the ground like that, like a reminder of sin. So, because I was born first, and because I grow food rather than killing it, I must surely be God's favourite, and all the best things in this world will be coming to me. I feel a bit sorry for Abel, really, because he's younger than me, and he had to be the herdsman.

ABEL [coming in]: Have you made your offering to the Lord, Cain?

CAIN: Yes, Abel. I've offered him all the very best things I've grown.

ABEL: Then I'll go in and make my own sacrifice.

CAIN: And cover everything with blood, no doubt.

ABEL: I don't cover everything with blood. I drain the blood into a bowl. You have to do it very carefully. None of it must splash on the ground. You mustn't hack the animal's throat: you sharpen your knife to its sharpest edge, sharper than ice, sharper than the rim of the moon, so you can do it in one stroke.

CAIN: I don't know how you can bear to do it at all. You with your gentle manners, your fair skin and your soft hands.

ABEL: I do it because I can't bear to see the animal suffer. I can't bear to see it die an ugly death. God gave us the flesh of animals to eat, but he didn't mean us to be cruel. And he never gave us their blood. The life force of an animal is in its blood. God gave them that life force, and only God can take it back. So when an animal has to die, I drain and preserve every drop of its blood, and offer it back to God.

CAIN: And what is it this time? What have you killed?

ABEL: A lamb.

CAIN: An innocent and harmless lamb. I don't know how you can do it.

ABEL: It's part of my job. I got used to it a long time ago.

CAIN: Look at you. You're almost as soft as a lamb yourself. I work far harder than you do, digging the fields and chopping down trees. I'm much bigger and stronger than you are. My hands are like gnarled roots, whereas yours are soft and white. My muscles are like iron! You're a baby by comparison! Yet you're the one that grabs hold of a living creature and cuts its throat.

ABEL: That's what I have to do.

CAIN: I feel sorry for you, to be honest. I'm the oldest, I'm the biggest, I'm the strongest, and I'm the one that grows things. You're small and soft and your hands and clothes are always covered in blood. There's blood under your fingernails now! You smell of it. I'm sure God will be good to both of us, but he's bound to favour me more.

ABEL: I expect you're right.

CAIN: Well, go in and make your sacrifice.

[Exit Abel. Enter Adam and Eve.]

ADAM: Have you seen your brother?

CAIN: He's just gone in there to make his sacrifice.

ADAM: Oh good. Supper's nearly ready.

CAIN: About time. I'm starving. What are we having?

ADAM: Roast lamb. Can't you smell it? It's really making my mouth water.

CAIN: What about the vegetables?

ADAM: Oh yes, vegetables as well. Your mother knows more about that than I do.

CAIN: What vegetables are we having, Mother?

EVE: Oh, lots of different ones. Look what I've made for your brother. A new cloak of wool.

CAIN: That's nice.

EVE: He brought me the wool himself, and I promised to make him a cloak out of it.

CAIN: Didn't you make one for me?

EVE: I can make you one if you like. You'll have to get Abel to fetch some more wool. But he's the one that feels the cold. You're such a big strapping lad, and you're always digging and chopping. If anything you normally want cooling down, not warming up.

CAIN: I wouldn't mind one of those cloaks, all the same.

EVE: All right, Cain, I'll make you one.

ADAM: There's no need to get jealous.

CAIN: Jealous? Me jealous of Abel? I'm not jealous of him!

ADAM: No, well, you shouldn't be, a great big hulk of a lad like you.

EVE: He's small and delicate. He's got a soft gentle voice instead of a great big shouty one, and sensitive hands instead of great big ones like spades. He feels the cold. He never looks warm enough, to me. He's the one that needs looking after, not you.

ADAM: He hasn't got any of your advantages.

CAIN: He always stinks of blood.

EVE: Well he can't help that. He washes as often as he can. You could try washing a bit more often yourself.

CAIN: Why, what's wrong with me?

ADAM: Nothing's wrong with you, my lad, nothing at all.

CAIN: That's good honest sweat, that is. I have to work hard for my living.

ADAM: Of course you do, Cain.

CAIN: I have to dig the fields. I have to chop down trees. She always favours him over me.

EVE: I don't, darling.

ADAM: She just feels more protective of him because he's smaller and weaker.

EVE: You mustn't be jealous.

CAIN: I'm not jealous!

ADAM: No, no, your mother didn't mean jealous.

EVE: No, I didn't mean jealous, Cain, I just meant resentful.

CAIN: I'm not resentful!

ADAM: No, of course you're not.

EVE: We'd better go and get the supper ready.

ADAM: Yes, don't be long. And tell your brother.

EVE: And have a quick wash before you come.

CAIN: That's good honest sweat, that is!

[Exit Adam and Eve.]

CAIN: I haveto work hard for my living! Not like that little pipsqueak!

[Enter Satan.]

CAIN: Hallo! Who are you?

SATAN: Let's say I'm a messenger.

CAIN: A messenger? A messenger from who?

SATAN: I've come to inform you about the outcome of the sacrifices.

CAIN: Outcome? What d'you mean, outcome?

SATAN: The result. The upshot.

CAIN: You mean a reward? Some kind of reward?

SATAN: Not exactly.

CAIN: We're not expecting any reward, of course. There's never been anything before. I make my sacrifice, then Abel makes his, and that's that. We do it to show our devotion to God. We're not expecting anything in return.

SATAN: What about a reaction? Aren't you expecting any reaction from God?

CAIN: Well, no, not really. We hope he's pleased with our sacrifices. We kind of take it for granted that he is.

SATAN: Not expecting any adjudication?

CAIN: Adjudication? What d'you mean, adjudication?

SATAN: Any indication of which one he prefers?

CAIN: No. Why? I - I expect he likes them both in different ways, doesn't he?

SATAN: Oh yes, I expect he does.

CAIN: Yes.

SATAN: But he might still prefer one over the other.

CAIN: Might he?

SATAN: Which do you think it might be?

CAIN: Well - if anything - I'm not saying anything against my brother, mind you - he does the best he can - but at the end of the day I expect it would be mine. I offer up fruits, grains and vegetables, the bounty of God's earth, the kind of thing my mother and father used to eat when they were in Eden. My brother offers up dead animals. He kills them with his own hands. God creates these living creatures, he goes to the trouble of creating them, he breathes life into them, and then my brother cuts their throats, and covers everything with blood... So I expect, if anything, if he was to have a preference, one sacrifice against the other, God would probably prefer mine.

SATAN: Guess again.

CAIN: What?

SATAN: Guess again.

CAIN: You mean he prefers Abel's?

SATAN: I'm afraid so.

CAIN: Why? Why does he?

SATAN: That I don't know.

CAIN: Well, how do you know that he does? Are you one of his angels?

SATAN: I'm more of a freelance these days.

CAIN: Did he send you to tell me?

SATAN: I came to tell you.

CAIN: I knew it. In my heart I always knew it. Everyone always favours Abel over me: because he's meek and mild, and his hands are soft, and he's the one that brings the meat. And they prefer the taste of meat too, better than fruit or vegetables. Just the smell of it roasting makes them faint with hunger. They don't care about the bloodshed. They don't care that a creature had to die. When you smell that smell, nothing else matters.

SATAN: Roasted meat certainly is delicious.

CAIN: But why would God prefer a dead animal? Why would he prefer death to life?

SATAN: I'm afraid I don't know.

CAIN: And why should Abel be the one that gets the animals to look after? Why should I be the one that has to work in the fields like a slave? I was born first! I should have had my choice of jobs! They never asked me - they just told me to go and work in the fields. It's not fair! They've always favoured him more than me! And now God favours him too!

SATAN: I can see that you're angry.

CAIN: I'm not angry! I don't care! What do I care if everyone hates me! I don't need any of them! I wouldn't care if I was an outcast! I'd be happier living on my own!

SATAN: I have another message for you.

CAIN: What, a message from God?

SATAN: Cain, why are you so angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do well, won't you be accepted? But if you don't do well, sin is near at hand. Unto you shall be his desire, and you must rule over him.

CAIN: Is that the message?

SATAN: That's the message.

CAIN: I shall rule over him. Rule over Abel, does it mean? He wants to rule me, but I'm going to rule him.

SATAN: Perhaps it means sin. Sin is near at hand. Unto you shall be his desire, and you must rule over him.

CAIN: What does that mean?

SATAN: Perhaps it means you've got to control sin, or sin will control you.

CAIN: No, it doesn't mean sin, it means Abel. It means he wants to rule me, but I'm going to rule over him - and I know how to do it, too. I'm going to strike him down. I'm much stronger than he is. I'll strike him down, and I'll take over his flocks. Then it'll be me bringing the meat, not him.

SATAN: Are you sure you want to do that? Turn your hand against your own brother?

CAIN: It'll teach him a lesson. He thinks he's better than me, but I'll show him.

SATAN: But what will God think?

CAIN: Well, he seems to like a bit of blood being spilt, doesn't he? He preferred Abel's sacrifice to mine. I'll spill a bit of Abel's blood. The blood of a man will surely find more favour in God's eyes than the blood of a beast.

SATAN: Here he comes now.

[Enter Abel.]

ABEL: Not gone in to supper yet, brother?

CAIN: No, I was just standing out here in the field. This is where I feel most at home, out here by myself.

ABEL: Shall we go in now? Mother and Father will be waiting for us.

CAIN: You took a long time over that sacrifice.

ABEL: I was just thanking God for all his bounty.

CAIN: Oh, right. Good for you.

ABEL: Those vegetables smell good.

CAIN: Don't lie! You can't smell anything but the meat!

SATAN: Greetings, Abel.

ABEL: Oh, hallo! I didn't see you there.

[Abel turns towards Satan, and Cain strikes him down.]

CAIN: There! That's done it! Now I'll be the one in charge of the flocks.

SATAN: You certainly hit him hard.

CAIN: I don't know my own strength sometimes.

SATAN: You've got a mark on your forehead.

CAIN: Have I? That's a bit of his blood, I suppose.

SATAN: He doesn't seem to be moving much.

CAIN: That's typical of him. What a weakling. He'll get over it in a minute, though.

SATAN: Are you sure he will?

CAIN: Of course he will. I had to hit him fairly hard, because I wanted him out of action for a bit. Come on Abel, wakey wakey! This is probably going to suit him down to the ground, playing the invalid. Our mother will spoil him rotten.

SATAN: He's losing a lot of blood. It's soaking into the ground.

CAIN: Scalp wounds always bleed a lot. Come on, Abel! Wakey wakey! What's the matter with him?

SATAN: Perhaps he's dead.

CAIN: Dead! Don't be ridiculous, he can't be dead! People don't die. Animals die - birds and beasts die - people don't die.

SATAN: Are you sure about that?

CAIN: Abel! Abel! Come on, mate! Come on, brother! Stop play-acting! What's up with him?

SATAN: He doesn't seem to be breathing.

[Cain recoils from the body]

CAIN: Oh God! God help me now! He really is dead! I've killed him! What will I do? Where will I go? Help me! Help me to hide him! I'll have to cover him up!

SATAN: You can't cover this up, Cain. The voice of his blood cries out from the ground.

[Adam calls from offstage]

ADAM: Cain? Are you there?

CAIN: Yes, I'm here, Father.

ADAM: Why don't you come in to your supper?

CAIN: I'm just coming.

ADAM: And where's your brother?

CAIN: I don't know - I don't know where he is - he's - he's gone - I don't know where he's gone - how would I know? What's it got to do with me? I'm not his keeper!