Another Gentleman: There’s a terrible draught, isn’t there? I shall have a stiff neck.
His Wife: You should keep your scarf on.
The Gentleman: It looks so odd.
Another Lady: The President looks very happy this evening, doesn’t he?
Another: No wonder, is it? He must be a proud man.
A young man, dressed in black, passes among the people, glancing furtively into LINCOLN’S box, and disappears. It is JOHN WILKES BOOTH.
A Lady (greeting another): Ah, Mrs. Bennington. When do you expect your husband back?
They drift away. SUSAN, carrying cloaks and wraps, comes in. She goes to the box, and speaks to MRS. LINCOLN. Then she comes away, and sits down apart from the crowd to wait.
A Young Man_: I rather think of going on the stage myself. My friends tell me I’m uncommon good. Only I don’t think my health would stand it.
A Girl: Oh, it must be a very easy life. Just acting—that’s easy enough.
A cry of “Lincoln” comes through the auditorium. It is taken up, with shouts of “The President,” “Speech,” “Abraham Lincoln,” “Father Abraham,” and so on. The conversation in the lounge stops as the talkers turn to listen. After a few moments, LINCOLN is seen to rise. There is a burst of cheering. The people in the lounge stand round the box door. LINCOLN holds up his hand, and there is a sudden silence.
Lincoln: My friends, I am touched, deeply touched, by this mark of your good-will. After four dark and difficult years, we have achieved the great purpose for which we set out. General Lee’s surrender to General Grant leaves but one Confederate force in the field, and the end is immediate and certain. (Cheers.) I have but little to say at this moment. I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. But as events have come before me, I have seen them always with one faith. We have preserved the American Union, and we have abolished a great wrong. (Cheers.) The task of reconciliation, of setting order where there is now confusion, of bringing about a settlement at once just and merciful, and of directing the life of a reunited country into prosperous channels of good-will and generosity, will demand all our wisdom, all our loyalty. It is the proudest hope of my life that I may be of some service in this work. (Cheers.) Whatever it may be, it can be but little in return for all the kindness and forbearance that I have received. With malice toward none, with charity for all, it is for us to resolve that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
There is a great sound of cheering. It dies down, and a boy passes through the lounge and calls out “Last act, ladies and gentlemen.” The people disperse, and the box doors are closed. SUSAN is left alone and there is silence.