[The Wife goes out. Man lies down on the sofa, his head toward the spot where Someone in Gray stands immobile, so that His hand almost touches Man’s gray, dishevelled hair. Man falls asleep quickly.
Man has fallen into a sound, sweet sleep, deceived by hope. His breath is soft as a child’s, his heart beats calmly and evenly, bringing him relief. He knows not that in a few moments his son will die. In mysterious dream-fancies a picture of impossible happiness arises before him.
It seems to him that he and his son are drifting in a white boat along a beautiful, quiet stream. It seems to him that it is a glorious day, and he sees the deep sky and the transparent crystal water. He hears the rustling of the reeds as they part before the boat. It seems to him that he is happy and glad. All his feelings betray him.
Suddenly he is disturbed. The terrible truth has entered through the thick veil of sleep and stung his thoughts.
“Why is your golden hair cut so short, my boy? Why?”
“I had a headache, papa, that’s why.”
And deceived once more, he feels happy again, sees the deep sky, and hears the rustling of the parting reeds.
He knows not that his son is already dying. He hears not how, in a last senseless hope, with a child’s faith in the power of adults, his son is calling him without words, with his heart: “Papa, papa, I am dying! Hold me!” Man sleeps soundly and sweetly, and in the deceptive, mysterious fancies there arises before him the picture of impossible happiness. Awake, Man! Your son is dead.
[Man lifts his head, frightened, and rises.
Ha! What is it? I thought I heard someone call me.
[At that moment many women behind the scenes burst into a wail—the loud, long-drawn wail over the dead. The Wife enters, frightfully pale.
Yes, he is dead.
Did he call me?
No, he never awoke. He didn’t call anyone. He is dead—my son, my dear, darling boy!
[She falls on her knees before Man and sobs, clasping his knees. Man puts his hand on her hand and, turning to the corner where Someone in Gray stands indifferently, speaks in a sobbing, but terrible voice.
You insulted a woman, scoundrel! You killed a boy! (His Wife sobs. Man softly strokes her hair with his trembling hand) Don’t cry, my dear, don’t cry. He will scoff at our tears, just as He scoffed at our prayers. And you—I don’t know who you are—God, Devil, Fate, or Life—I curse you!