Why did I take it till I had considered matters?—and then I had it in my hand. And Katharine, too, was so quickly gone!—I should not have taken it!
Those cruel men! Prayers avail nothing. What have you there, Mary?
A letter from Robert.
If your father should see that!
I cannot understand at all how I came to accept it; but I felt so sorry for Robert. Katharine told me he was down in the Dell, and waiting. Then I again recollected my dream of last night.
I dreamt I was at the spring among the willows in my favorite spot, and was sitting among the many colored flowers and looking up into the sky. There I saw a thunder-storm, and I became as depressed as if I were to die. And the child, you know, the one that had been with me fourteen years ago when I lost my way, was sitting beside me and said: Poor Mary! and pulled the bridal wreath out of my hair, and in place of it fastened to my bosom a large blood-red rose. Then I fell backwards into the grass, I knew not how. Yonder in the village the bells were ringing, and the singing of the birds, the chirping of the crickets, the soft evening breeze in the willows above me—all that seemed like a lullaby. And the turf sank down with me lower and ever lower, and the chimes and the singing sounded ever more distant—the sky became blue once more, and I felt so light and free—
A strange dream! Have you opened the letter?
No, mother. And I do not wish to do so.
At least don’t let your father see it. Alas, Mary! we shall be obliged to leave your father!
Leave father? We?
He is coming. Do not betray anything! Put away the letter. Put the Bible there before you, so that be may not suspect anything. I will try once more—if he thinks we are going away, he perhaps may yet give in, and we may stay.
The stage is becoming darker and darker.
The FORESTER; SOPHY; MARY.
William not yet back?
I have not seen him.
[FORESTER steps to the window, and, lost in thought, drums against the panes. SOPHY begins packing.]
Be quiet now, Mary, and don’t take part in the conversation.
FORESTER (has turned around and watched his wife for some time).
What are you doing there?
SOPHY (without looking up).
I am packing some dresses—if I have to go away—
We don’t have to go. There is a law to prevent that.