The FORESTER’S House. Night. For a short time the stage remains empty.
SOPHY (alone, comes in with a lamp, looks into MARY’S room, puts the lamp upon the table, goes to the window, opens the shutter through which the reflection of the sheet-lightning is visible, looks out; then she closes shutter and window, takes the lamp again, and looks once more into MARY’S room. At intervals she listens and betrays great anxiety.)
Not yet! What if he’s encountered her! What if he’s met them together! She ought to be back by this time. Oh, why did I let her go? And Andrew does not come, either! And then this sultry, stormy night!
Surely, that was she? At last! God be praised!
[Looks into the room.]
No. It is not she. The wind blew open the half-closed shutter.
WILLIAM, in his shirt-sleeves; SOPHY.
Are the soldiers there, mother?
[At the door of MARY’S room.]
Mother, where is father?
[SOPHY is startled, and quickly closes the door.]
And Mary? She is not in her room?
What ideas you get into your head!
Her bed is still as if it had just been made.
SOPHY (listens, frightened).
Is that your father? William, say nothing about this before your father!
I’m the fellow to play the informer! But
you must tell me where Mary is.
Gone to the Dell to ask Robert—
Mother, we beg at nobody’s door. I am going to fetch her.
In this storm?
WILLIAM (puts on his jacket).
He would be a fine hunter’s boy who is afraid of a little bit of lightning. Only tell me which way Mary went. The one below along the brook? All right. She is not like the others, but she is only a girl. And they are afraid.
SOPHY (alone; after him).
William! William! [Comes back.]
He is gone! And the storm is getting worse. A fog below, and the thunderstorm above coming nearer. And another one is coming on from the Brandsberg. And Ulrich outside, and none of the children at home. And I all alone in this solitary hunter’s house in the midst of the forest, and at such an hour of the night!
[A door is heard slamming; she starts up.]
Merciful God! It is he! If he should look into the room and should not see Mary! Or—