Nothing. I am conscious of darkness as too heavy a weight.
THE PHEASANT-HEN You are conscious of darkness as—Shall I tell you the truth? You think you sing for the Dawn, but you sing in reality to be admired, you—songster, you! [With contemptuous pity.] Is it possible you are not aware that your poor notes raise a smile right through the forest, accustomed to the fluting of the thrush?
I know, you are trying now to reach me through my pride, but—
THE PHEASANT-HEN I doubt if you can get so many as three toadstools and a couple of sassafras stalks to listen to you, when the ardent oriole flings across the leafy gloom his melodious pir-piriol!
[Reappearing.] From the Greek: Pure, puros.
No more from you, please! [The WOODPECKER hurriedly withdraws.]
THE PHEASANT-HEN [Insisting.] The echo must make some rather interesting mental reservations, one fancies, when he hears you sing after hearing the great Nightingale!
CHANTECLER [Turning to leave.] My nerves, my dear girl, are not of the very steadiest to-night.
[Following.] Did you ever hear him?
His song is so wonderful that the first time—[She stops short, struck
by an idea.] Oh!
What is it?
[Aside.] Ah, you feel the weight of the darkness—
[Coming forward again.] What?
THE PHEASANT-HEN [With an ironical curtsey.] Nothing! [Carelessly.] Let us go to roost! [CHANTECLER goes to the back and is preparing to rise to a branch. The PHEASANT-HEN aside.] He does not know that when the Nightingale sings one listens, supposing it to be a minute, and lo! the whole night has been spent listening, even as happens in the enchanted forest of a German legend.
[As she does not join him, returns to her.] What are you saying?
[Laughing in his face.] Nothing!
[Outside.] The illustrious Cock?
[Looking around him.] I am wanted?
THE PHEASANT-HEN [Who has gone in the direction from whence came the voice.] There, in the grass! [Jumping back.] Mercy upon us! They are the—[With a movement of insuperable disgust.] They are the—[With a spring she conceals herself in the hollow tree, calling back to CHANTECLER.] Be civil to them!
CHANTECLER, the PHEASANT-HEN, hidden in the tree, and the TOADS.
A BIG TOAD [Rearing himself in the grass.] We have come—[Other TOADS become visible behind him.]