SALOME. Be quiet! Enough! Give yourself no unnecessary heartache.
NATO [jumps up and embraces Salome]. Dear, dear mamma! dearest mamma, save me!
SALOME. Oh, rather would your mother be dead than to see this day!
NATO. Dear mamma, save me! save me, or I shall go into consumption! God is my witness!
SALOME [weeping]. The deuce take everything!
[Wipes away her tears.
NATO. Mamma, if you please, I would rather not marry at all. I will serve you here at home like a housemaid. Only make them stop this affair!
SALOME. That has already happened, my child.
NATO. Dear mamma, please do it.
SALOME. But I tell you, truly.
NATO. Is it really true?
SALOME. As true as the sun shines.
NATO [kissing Salome]. O my dear, dear mamma!
SALOME. At last I am rid of you. Your eyes are real tear-fountains. It would not have taken much more to make me cry, too.
NATO [laughing]. Ha! ha! ha!
SALOME. You can laugh now.
NATO. Ha! ha! ha! you gave me such a fright!
SALOME. You are terribly flighty. [Presses
the money into her hand.]
Here, take it; and do not be too long.
[Smoothes Nato’s hair.
NATO [pulling herself away from her mother].
Very well, mamma.
[Taking her parasol and mantle.
SALOME. Wipe your eyes, I pray, or they will laugh at you!
NATO. They are quite dry; and what does anybody
care about my eyes?
SALOME. Come back soon; don’t allow yourself to be delayed.
NATO. I will come back right away, dear mamma.
[Goes toward the right into the ante-room.
SALOME [alone]. No, there is no other way out. Cost what it will, I shall accomplish what I want. Yes, I must, if I am ruined by it. Mother of God, plead for my Nato!
OSSEP [enters, right]. Where has Nato gone?
SALOME. Just across the way, to the store. She needed some music.
OSSEP. These are fine times for me! And a girl like this is to become a good citizen’s wife! [Sits down on the sofa.
SALOME [coming near]. That is what I say, too, dear Ossep. [Lays hand on his shoulder.] Are you not sorry? Is it not too bad about her?
OSSEP. I am still more to be pitied; but who pities me? SALOME. Shall we really give her to a business man for a wife?
OSSEP. And what else? Is a merchant such a bad fellow? To judge by your words, I also am good for nothing; I who, day and night, worry myself to get you bread.
SALOME [embracing him]. How can you say such a thing, dear Ossep? Listen to me; are you not sorry for Nato? It would be quite different if she had been educated as I was.