If only you would change your mind! But you will not do it, and—I must leave you.
That matter is settled, woman, and my resolution is taken. None of your lamentations! Tomorrow I am going. Since I am not an official of the State and—today I intend to be right jolly.
[WILLIAM brings wine; the FORESTER pours out and drinks repeatedly, every time a full glass. Between glasses he whistles and drums.]
Put that light away, so that I may not see my shadow.
[WILLIAM puts the lamp on the table near the women, seats himself by them and takes the still opened Bible before him.]
SOPHY (aside and to Mary).
Andrew still stays out, and it has been dark for a long while. And tomorrow I must go. Now I say indeed: I must go; and yet I am not sure that, when the moment comes, I shall have the strength of mind to carry out my intention—after we have lived together for twenty years, sharing joys and sorrows! And to say farewell to the forest with its green leaves which all day long looks into every window! How still it will seem to us, when during the entire day we no longer shall hear the rustling of the trees, the singing of the birds, and the sound of the wood-cutter’s ax. And the old cuckoo-clock there—it was ticking when I was a bride, and now you too have been betrothed here! There in that corner you raised yourself on your feet for the first time, Mary, and began to walk, and took three steps; and there where your father is sitting, I sat and wept for joy. Is that what life is? An everlasting bidding farewell? If, after all, I were to remain? And yet when I think of all the things uncle said might happen! If Robert’s letter—William, please go into the garden. I must have left the glass by the spring, or in the arbor or somewhere thereabouts.
The same, without WILLIAM. SOPHY and MARY in front of the stage busied with the lamp. The FORESTER sometimes seated in the rear, sometimes walking up and down past the table to the window.
SOPHY (having waited till WILLIAM is out).
Suppose you find out what Robert has been writing.
You mean I should open the letter, mother?
Perhaps everything can still be arranged, and Robert writes us how. If you will not open it, give me the letter. If I do it, you have nothing to reproach yourself for.
If I only could read by lamp-light. If I put on my spectacles, he would notice it. Read it to me, Mary.
You want me to read it, mother?
If I give you permission, you may surely do so. Put it there next to the Bible. And if he comes near, or his attention is attracted, you read from the Bible.