[Enter Doctor, Man and his Wife. Both have aged greatly and are completely gray. Man’s long bristling hair and beard give his face a leonine appearance. He walks slightly stooping, but holds his head erect and looks sternly and resolutely from beneath his gray eyebrows. When he looks at anything closely, he puts on large, silver-framed eye-glasses.
Your son has fallen into a deep sleep. Don’t wake him. It may bring on a turn for the better. You go to sleep too. When one has a chance to sleep one should grab it and not stay up talking.
Thank you, doctor, it’s been such a relief. Will you call to-morrow again?
Yes, to-morrow and the day after to-morrow. Old woman, you go to bed too. It’s late, it’s time for all to go to bed. Is that the door to leave by? I often make mistakes.
[He goes out. The Old Woman goes also. Man and his Wife are left alone.
Look, wife, I began to draw this while our son was still well. I stopped at this line and thought I’d rest and resume the work later. See what a simple, placid line it is, yet horrible to look at. It may be the last line I shall have drawn in our boy’s lifetime. What malicious ignorance there is graven in its simplicity and placidity.
Don’t get excited, my dear. Don’t think those evil thoughts. I believe the doctor told the truth and our son will recover.
Aren’t you excited too? Look at yourself in the mirror. You’re as white as your hair, my old friend.
Of course, I am a little excited, but I’m convinced there’s no danger.
Now, as always, you encourage me and fool me so sincerely, so guilelessly. My poor squire, true guardian of my dulled sword, your knight is a poor, broken-down man. He cannot hold a weapon in his feeble hand. What do I see? Our son’s toys. Who put them there?
My dear, you put them there yourself long ago. Have you forgotten? You said you found it easier to work with the child’s innocent toys beside you.
Yes, I had forgotten. But now it’s terrible to look at them, as terrible as it is for a convict to look at instruments of torture. If the child dies, his toys will remain as a curse to the living. Wife, wife, the sight of them is terrible to me!