Oh, he is so good—and he likes me! [Exit.]
CLARA (looks after her through the window).
There she goes! Three times I have dreamt that she was lying in her coffin, and now—oh, these awful dreams! I am not going to care about dreams any more; I will take no pleasure in a good dream, and then I shall not have to worry about the bad one that follows it. How firmly and confidently she steps out! She is already close to the church-yard. I wonder who will be the first person she meets? It would signify nothing—no, I mean only [she shudders]—the gravedigger! He has just finished digging a grave and is climbing out of it! She greets him and glances smilingly down into the dismal hole! She throws the nosegay into it and enters the church!
[A choir is heard.]
They are singing: Praise ye the Lord.
[She folds her hands.]
Yes! yes! If my mother had died, I should never have recovered from it, for—[Glances toward Heaven.] But Thou art kind, Thou art merciful! I would that I believed with the Catholics, so that I might offer Thee something! I would empty the whole of my little box of savings and buy Thee a beautiful gilded heart, and twine it with roses. Our pastor says that sacrifices mean nothing to Thee, because everything is Thine, and one should not offer Thee something Thou already hast. And yet everything in the house belongs to my father too; and still he likes it when I buy a piece of cloth with his money and embroider it and put it on his plate for his birthday. Yes, and he honors me by wearing it only on great holidays, at Christmas or Whitsuntide. Once I saw a little mite of a Catholic girl carrying some cherries up to the altar. They were the first the child had had that year, and I could see how she longed to eat them. Still she resisted the innocent desire, and, in order to put an end to the temptation, hurriedly threw them down. The priest, who was just about to pick up the chalice, looked on with a scowl, and the child hastened timidly away. But the Mary above the altar smiled gently, as if she would have liked to step out of her frame and overtake the child and kiss her.—I did it for her! Here comes Leonard. Oh, dear!
LEONARD (outside the door).
Are you dressed?
Why so polite, so considerate? I am no princess, you know.
I thought you were not alone! In passing by I thought I saw your neighbor Babbie standing by the window.
And so that is why—
You are forever so irritable! One can stay away from here for two weeks, rain and sunshine can have alternated ten times, and, when one does finally come again, he finds the same old cloud darkening your face!