Enter the Doctor in a white uniform, and Man’s Father, whose face wears an expression of extreme exhaustion and joy. There are lines under his eyes; his cheeks are sunken and his hair is dishevelled; he is very negligently dressed. The Doctor looks very learned._
Up to the very last moment I didn’t know whether your wife would pull through or not. I used all the means at the disposal of medical skill and science. But science can do very little unless nature helps too; I was really excited. My pulse is still going hard. Though I have assisted at so many births, yet I can’t rid myself of a sense of uneasiness. But you are not listening to me, sir.
I’m listening, but I can’t hear. Her screams are still ringing in my ears, and it’s hard for me to pull myself together. Poor woman, how she suffered! I was a fool, I was stupid and wanted to have children. But hereafter I will renounce. It is criminal.
You will call me again when your next child comes.
No, never. I’m ashamed to admit it, but just now I hate the child for which she suffered so. I didn’t even see him. What sort of a boy is he?
He’s a well-fed, strong little youngster, and if I’m not mistaken he resembles you.
Me? Fine! Now I’m beginning to love him. I always wanted a boy to look like me. Did you see—his nose is like mine, isn’t it?
Yes, his nose and eyes.
His eyes too? Ah, that’s good. I’ll raise your fee.
You’ll have to pay me for using the instruments also.
FATHER (turning to the corner where He stands motionless)
God, I thank Thee for having granted my wish and given me a son who resembles me. I thank Thee for preserving my wife from death, and bringing my child into the world alive. I pray Thee that he may grow up big, healthy, and strong; that he may be wise and honest, and that he may never cause us grief, but be a constant joy to his mother and me. If Thou wilt do this, I will always believe in Thee and go to church.